GIBSONTON — During the regular season, Tampa Bay Tech had handled Durant relatively easy with two blowout wins.
So when the Titans found themselves trailing 12-8 after the first quarter Saturday, Reggie Lawrence replaced the starters with his bench. The reserves responded with a 10-2 run to help turn the game back in Tampa Bay Tech's favor as the Titans rolled to a 49-40 win to capture the Class 5A, District 8 title.
"It's hard to beat a team three times and (Durant) was fired up," Lawrence said. "My bench came in and helped turn the tide. Dasia Christopher gave us that spark on the offensive side and defensive end, and the starters answered the bell once they re-entered the game."
While Christopher scored just four points, her steals and defensive pressure changed the momentum for the Titans (22-3) in the decisive second quarter, in which they outscored Durant 18-7.
"We were struggling there for a bit and (the reserves) showed us the effort that we knew we had to give," said senior center Jasmine Rodriguez, who scored 10 points and had 11 rebounds. "We wanted to win districts really bad, not just for pride's sake but so we could keep home-court advantage for a while (in the region playoffs)."
The Titans had to contend with an 11-3 run between the third and fourth quarters that saw the Cougars (10-8) pull within 36-35 on two free throws by Taylor Broadnax, who scored a game-high 15 points. But a free throw by Deondria Reeves, a fastbreak layup by Christopher and a turnaround jumper by Rodriguez gave the Titans a six-point lead, and the Cougars did not get within five the rest of the game.
Courtney Jenkins led the Titans with 12 points.