Class 6A, district 8 Panthers, Wildcats cruise into final
TAMPA — Wharton and Plant dominated their 6A-8 district semifinals, setting up a finals match tonight between the top-seeded teams.
Wharton beat Alonso (9-12) 57-18 behind the scoring of two freshmen. Tesha Hanson led the Wildcats with 17 points, and Shayla Cooper added 16.
"We were focused on pushing the ball and being aggressive; if we continue to play as a team we can go far," said Cooper.
Wharton (20-4) took control from the start, building a 38-11 lead at halftime. The team's strong effort impressed coach Chad Reed.
"We made good passes, good plays and got production from all five starters out there (Friday)," he said. "But we can always get better on defense; that will determine how we do in the finals."
The Panthers took care of business against Bloomingdale, winning 54-30.
Plant (16-7) featured a balanced offensive attack and a stifling full-court zone press to force Bloomingdale (6-15) into 28 turnovers. Nine players scored for Plant, led by Kelly Brennan and Kaitlyn Brady with 12 points each.
"Our offense was working early, we moved the ball and pressed very well," said Brennan. "Against Wharton we'll have to focus more on defense and work to get easy shots on offense."
Plant coach Carrie Mahon was happy with her team's victory but believes the Panthers will have to play better against Wharton.
"They're a very talented team and they've got us in height and quickness but we have prepared for them all week. We don't like to lose district games."
Sean Fitzgerald, Times correspondent