ST. PETERSBURG — As she watched Orlando Dr. Phillips knock down one shot after another in the first half of Saturday night's Class 6A region final, St. Petersburg coach Tamika Coley was hopeful the hot streak would eventually end.
"I kept thinking their legs would give out at some point," Coley said.
Unfortunately for the Green Devils, that never happened.
From beginning to end, Dr. Phillips was sharp, and behind a career-best 32 points from freshman shooting guard Alexis Brown the Panthers defeated St. Petersburg 69-48 to reach their first final four since 1992. Brown made her first shot, one of six 3-pointers, one minute into the game. After an opening quarter in which she hit just about everything, Brown had 13 of her team's 19 points.
"Once I hit my first two shots, I knew I was going to be on the rest of the game," Brown said.
By the half, Dr. Phillips (30-1) was ahead 37-19 and it would have been hard for anyone who watched the opening 16 minutes to picture a Green Devils (20-5) comeback.
"We're not really a come-from-behind team," Coley said.
Standout guard Kamika Idom was St. Petersburg's top scorer with 22 points, but 16 of those came in the second half and she didn't make her first field goal until early in the third quarter.
As good as Brown was, she had help. Freshman point guard Sydnei McCaskill ran the offense to perfection and finished with 13 points. Another freshman, forward Hannah Schaible, was one of two Panthers to score eight.
For the Green Devils, who had never won a playoff game before this season, Saturday's loss wasn't easy to take. Neither was the margin of defeat.
"We're way better than that," Idom said.