TAMPA — From their charter bus to the cheerleading squad that came with them, the Sarasota Sailors traveled first-class to Thursday night's Class 6A region quarterfinal at Wharton.
But it was their no-frills scheme that led them to an improbable triumph.
Behind a sagging 2-3 zone defense and deliberate, clock-consuming offensive possessions, the Sailors (21-7) held Wharton to 16 points in the final three quarters en route to a 40-28 victory. The Wildcats (21-5) went nearly 81/2 minutes without scoring midway through the game.
"(Sailors) coach (Rob) Jutras had a great scheme," 'Cats coach Chad Reed said. "We just had some tentative girls out on the wing that didn't want to shoot."
Wharton took a 12-8 lead after one period and went ahead 15-13 on 6-foot freshman Shayla Cooper's 3-pointer with 3:20 to play before halftime. But the 'Cats wouldn't score again until Britney Coppedge sank a 3 with 2:58 to play in the third, cutting Sarasota's lead to 20-18.
Sarasota went on a 10-3 run from there, often working the ball around until an easy inside basket materialized. When Wharton pressed late, Sarasota responded by going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.
Cooper led all scorers with 16 points. Tesha Hanson, Wharton's No. 2 scorer, had four.