GULFPORT — Boca Ciega was willing to spend 50 fouls on stopping Sickles' 6-foot-4 All-America center Amber Henson if that's what it took to win Saturday's Class 5A region championship.
Instead, 5-foot-9 guard Tamara Taylor, 5-6 guard Latavia Dempsey and 5-6 center Destiny Brown combined to hold Henson to one of her lowest outputs of the season and rode a quick start to a surprisingly convincing 61-46 victory over Sickles.
The Pirates' 22nd straight win sends them to the state semifinals for the third consecutive season.
"It feels pretty incredible," said Dempsey, who hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring and spur the Pirates' red-hot start.
After Dempsey's 3-pointer, Alexis Ungro scored on a lay-up, Dempsey made a short shot and Taylor scored to make it 9-0.
Sickles never got within five points the rest of the way.
"We couldn't hit any shots and they were throwing everything in," Sickles coach Mark Key said. "That made it tough. It made the hill real high tonight."
Taylor and Dempsey each hit two 3s in the first quarter, and the Pirates (29-1) led 22-9 afterward. Taylor added two more 3s in the second quarter on the way to a game-high 32 points.
"Before the game I told my teammates we had to come out really hard," Taylor said. "And we did it."
Henson scored five points in the first quarter, but was held to one field goal in the second and third quarters. She only had 10 points until making a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left.
Sickles (25-4) pulled within 43-38 early in the fourth quarter, but Bogie went on an 18-5 run mostly on free throws as the Gryphons went cold.