TARPON SPRINGS — Clearwater recovered from early shooting troubles, blowing past Seminole 49-28 en route to the Class 5A, District 11 championship.
The Tornadoes came out ice cold in the first quarter, shooting just 2 for 17 from the field and trailing the Warhawks 7-5 at the end of the quarter.
Top scorer Victoria Cecil missed on all six of her first-quarter attempts, leaving the Tornadoes looking for offensive help.
It came in the form of Lashe Kirkland.
With her team struggling, Kirkland carried the load, hustling after loose balls, creating turnovers and converting scoring opportunities. She finished with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
On the defensive end, she added seven steals. Behind her strong play, Clearwater righted the ship and seized a 23-10 halftime lead.
"I was like, 'We have to win this district,' " said Kirkland. "We were sloppy in the beginning, so I had to finish at the other end. I figured If I could do that everybody would."
Her teammates followed her example in the second half. The Tornadoes played pesky full-court press and utilized a superior passing game to put the Warhawks away for good. Clearwater finished the game with 33 steals.
"We couldn't get into our rhythm in the first half offensively," Clearwater coach Tom Shaneyfelt said. "We just felt that our trapping would be the difference …and that would give us the runs."
Cecil, who had shooting woes throughout the game, chipped in with 10 points, four steals and three assists. Seminole's Amber Frounfelter came in off the bench to contribute six points.