ST. PETERSBURG — It took 34 years, but finally, Thursday night, it happened:
St. Petersburg won a girls basketball playoff game.
The slow-starting, fast-finishing Green Devils ran Plant right out of the gym, dismantling the Panthers 64-35 in a Class 6A region quarterfinal.
"We knew we had them right from the beginning," said point guard Kamyia Smith. "We came in with the mentality that we wanted to go on because we've never done that in (34) years."
The win sets up a district final rematch against Sarasota, which upset Wharton. In the district final last week, the Green Devils (19-4) beat the Sailors 50-41.
"It'll be much tougher this time," Smith said.
Anything would be tougher than Thursday's win. The Green Devils made it look that easy. After needing four minutes to get their first basket in a sloppily played beginning, the Green Devils turned up the defensive pressure and opened a 21-7 lead midway through the second on Andrea Johnson's putback.
Plant (16-9) made one run, an 11-0 burst led my Michelle Taylor's five points, Smith answered with a 3-pointer, and Kamika Idom made two free throws to make it 27-18 at the half.
Coach Tamika Coley told Idom, her daughter, at halftime that it was time to step it up. Idom, the team's leading scorer, had only five at the break but dropped 11 on Plant in the third quarter, none more important than her last six — consecutive 3-pointers to close out the quarter and give St. Petersburg a 48-28 lead.
A 19-2 run to end the second and open the third quarters put the Panthers away. Idom finished with a game-high 20 points, with Johnson adding 13 and Smith 12.
Plant was led by Kelly Brennan's 10.