ST. PETERSBURG — Northside Christian could not pull away from Keswick Christian in Saturday's Class 2A, District 11 girls basketball final thanks in part to a tremendous effort from Crusaders star Tori Hale.
But Northside's two blossoming stars, freshman Jessica Logemann and sophomore Amy Spath, played beyond their years in the closing minutes to give the Mustangs a 55-47 victory.
Northside (18-7) will host St. John Neumann of Naples (20-7) at 7 p.m. Thursday in a region quarterfinal, while Keswick (13-13) travels to Naples to face Community School (24-3) also at 7.
Logemann and Spath went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final minute. Logemann finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Spath scored 17.
"We needed to get the ball in their hands in final minutes," Northside coach D.J. Johnson said. "They were able to close the game out. That's what good players do."
Though the game was close throughout, Northside took a 5-4 lead in the first quarter and never trailed again. The Mustangs' transition offense helped them turn a 4-0 deficit into an 18-6 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Keswick, behind Hale's 31 points, fought back every time Northside was in position to pull away. But the Crusaders failed to take full advantage of second-chance scoring opportunities inside the paint.
"We missed too many close-range shots," Keswick coach Karrmayne King said. "I was proud of our effort. We're a very young team that's getting better."
Northside led by as many as 18, but a 3-pointer from Cassie Foster pulled Keswick to 51-45.