ST. PETERSBURG — In her first year as coach, Tamika Coley has made sure St. Petersburg's defense extends to every nook and cranny on the court.
The Green Devils challenge the dribbler, cut off passing lanes and steal the ball from behind.
Most of all, they make life miserable for opponents.
It is something Sarasota knows all too well.
For the third time this season, St. Petersburg beat the Sailors, this time 48-45 in the Class 6A, region quarterfinals Tuesday.
"We're all about defense, defense, defense," Coley said. "We want to get into the passing lanes, create turnovers and run. That's what we do best."
In the first two meetings, St. Petersburg relied on full-court pressure. Tuesday, the Green Devils switched to man-to-man defense. The athleticism still wore down Sarasota mentally and physically.
The Sailors felt the heat early, falling behind 15-7 after the first quarter. St. Petersburg was successful at flicking away a dribble or pass and turning it into a transition basket.
Trailing 23-15 at the half, the Sailors were able to rally, cutting the deficit to 44-39.
"For a three-minute period between the third and fourth quarter we had a mental lapse where we were not pushing things," Coley said. "I think we might have got a little winded. But then we started getting back to what we do."
Down the stretch, St. Petersburg got the crucial rebound or steal. And when the Green Devils needed to hit a free throw, they did to keep it a two-possession game.
Kamika Idom led the Green Devils with 19 points, followed by Kamyia Smith with 13.
"Those are our two key players," Coley said. "When we're down, we know that either one can step up and score for us."