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5A region basketball: Wesley Chapel knocks off Tampa Bay Tech

TAMPA — The scoreboard told anyone entering the gymnasium this fight was even entering the fourth quarter.

In reality, Wesley Chapel had won it back in the first.

Trailing by seven early and sensing his Wildcats needed the kind of jolt one might get from chugging a Red Bull, first-year coach Karim Nohra called a timeout. His voice could have ignited anything within the first three rows. His eyes opened wide and he demanded better work around the basket.

Suddenly his girls were back.

In the end, the Titans' season and two-year home win streak were history after Wesley Chapel took command and hunkered down defensively for a 43-34 victory. TBT (23-5), which lost to Wesley Chapel (26-2) in last year's region quarterfinal, was held to one field goal and just four points in the final eight minutes Tuesday night.

"I wanted the momentum to swing," Nohra said of the early timeout. "They were whooping and hollering and I figured I needed to bust that momentum."

Wesley Chapel broke loose in the fourth quarter, sparked by a steal and layup in the lane by forward Janelle Mills for a 34-30 lead. That was part of a 13-0 run that started in the third quarter.

The Wildcats surged ahead by nine after a pair of free throws from Shantel Houston, who finished with a game-high 17 points. TBT cut it to 39-34 after a three-point play by Leria Jenrette, who was held to four points.

The Titans had possession with an opportunity to cut the lead to two, but self-inflicted problems in the backcourt resulted in an out-of-bounds pass and another turnover with 52.6 seconds remaining.

"We let ourselves down," Titans coach Heather Glezen said. "They picked up their intensity level and we didn't respond to it. At the end, our youth took a toll on us."

Wesley Chapel scored the final four points.

Nohra, who compiled a 340-131 record at Tampa Catholic and Cambridge, acknowledged the unlikely return to the 5A region final in consecutive seasons. In addition to his late hire last summer, Wesley Chapel was playing with a new starting five. Under his guidance, the Wildcats have posted a record 26 wins and will host Lake Howell on Saturday.

"If you told me this back in August I would have told you you're on crack," Nohra said. "You would have taken all my money, my house, everything if you told me this team was going to the regional semifinal."

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5A region basketball: Wesley Chapel knocks off Tampa Bay Tech 02/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 11:12pm]

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