CLEARWATER — Plant's season ended Thursday in the region quarterfinals amid a barrage of deadly 3-point shooting and overpowering play in the post from Clearwater.
But in losing 62-31, Plant coach Carrie Mahon saw a glimmer of hope on an otherwise miserable night.
"I'm so proud of the way my kids held in there after falling behind 25-2," Mahon said. "The rest of the game we were only outscored 37-29. We showed a lot of guts."
Clearwater (27-2) scored the first 10 points and sprinted ahead to a 25-2 lead. Plant twice called timeout in the first five minutes to slow the onslaught, but Clearwater continued its relentless attack.
The Tornadoes pulled ahead by as many as 33 points in the second quarter before taking a 38-11 advantage into halftime.
"When you're shooting the 3-pointer well, when you're penetrating well, when you're making good lob passes, they don't make a defense for that," Mahon said.
"That was a heck of a start. A big statement."
Still, Plant (21-6) did not go away easily. The Panthers opened the second half on an 8-2 run to build some momentum and cut the lead to 40-19. Clearwater outscored Plant by only four points after the break.
Plant senior forward Antoinette Wilson finished a rebound shy of a double double. She had a team-high 10 points and nine boards. Clearwater was led by point guard Veronica Ryan, who went 3-of-4 from 3-point range and finished with 18 points.
"This is the third straight year we've ended our season at Clearwater," Mahon said. "So, I'm kind of tired of that locker room. I'll be happy that our regions are realigned and we'll be in a different classification next year."