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3A region final: Tampa Catholic 73, Fort Meade 37

TAMPA — Nancy Kroll insists that her team doesn't talk about its current winning streak.

The Tampa Catholic coach says her players are focused on winning back-to-back Class 3A state titles.

She does, however, admit she and the Crusaders are superstitious, which is why they ate the same pregame meal of chicken and yellow rice for the second straight game Tuesday.

And then they went out and earned their 22nd straight win while advancing to a third straight region final with a 73-37 home win over Fort Meade.

"We played our style of basketball tonight," Kroll said. "What's important is we talk about getting back to the state tournament every day. We talk about it all the time. We've raised the bar and we expect to go."

The Crusaders (25-4), who haven't lost a game since Dec. 4, overcame Fort Meade's inside size with a quick transition game and stellar shooting from the perimeter.

Tampa Catholic made five 3-pointers in the first half to run out to a 42-22 halftime lead on the Miners (18-5).

"They were hot," Fort Meade coach Archie Gale said. "That first half they were burning the basket up. They beat us. They beat us good. They couldn't miss. You can't beat that."

Crusaders senior guard Meghan Keough, a UCF recruit, led Tampa Catholic with 23 points, including two first-half 3s.

"That's our game plan; we like to run, we like to get them tired and drive in and kick out to our shooters," Keough said. "Coming into the game we heard they were really big and really physical. We're all beat up. It was a tough game from the beginning, and they never gave up the whole game."

Four Crusaders scored in double figures. Micah Kroll (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Kai Jones (12 points, 12 rebounds) each registered double doubles and Britany Betts added 11.

"I feel like we're reaching our peak right now, because every game we're having four people, five people stepping up, all of us scoring," Keough said.

As for those pregame meals?

"We're going to stick with it," Keough said, "because it's working."

3A region final: Tampa Catholic 73, Fort Meade 37 02/15/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 12:04am]

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