TAMPA — Seventeen points.
That's what separated Tampa Catholic from St. Petersburg Catholic in the four games they played this season.
That included Tuesday night when the teams went deep into the contest tied before Tampa Catholic pulled away 60-54 in the Class 3A region semifinals.
Tampa Catholic (27-2) hosts Melbourne Central Catholic in the region final Saturday night.
Trailing Tampa Catholic by nine in the first half and seven in the second, the Barons stormed back late in the game. But when TC pulled away from a 50-all tie with a little more than four minutes remaining, SPC (20-6) was out of comebacks.
"It's very difficult to beat a team four times in one season," Tampa Catholic coach Nancy Kroll said. "It was the free throws. Plus we were at home and we had a great crowd but we have been working on our free throws and the foul shooting was the key for us tonight."
Barons guard Jerica Coley scored 23 points but only one point came from the free-throw line. The Barons were 3-for-7 from the line as a team. Tampa Catholic, meanwhile, was 12-of-19 and hit several key ones in the game's final moments.
Coley nailed a jumper in the fourth and followed with a 3-point play to put the Barons ahead 48-47.
But Tampa Catholic's Sarah Brennan hit a key jump shot and Annie Dziagwa converted on a huge 3-pointer as Tampa Catholic outscored the Barons 10-4 down the stretch.
Brennan led TC with 21 points while Colette Eule added 15.