TAMPA — Racing enthusiasts would have cheered the quick pace.
Coaches attributed the run-and-gun first half to excitement and inspiration.
Whatever the case, Tampa Bay Tech found itself in a double-digit hole early Thursday against visiting Land O'Lakes.
The Titans decided to switch to a man-to-man defense to help them claw back to a 41-40 victory to advance to a region semifinal for the second time, the first since 2003.
"We decided we had to pick up the tempo," TBT coach Heather Glezen said. "We're not generally a good man-to-man defense, but they were beating us and we were sitting in our zone. We had to step it up."
The Titans (23-4) had plenty of opportunities banging deep toward the basket, but again and again they would miss, rebound and shoot again.
On the other end, Gators sophomore Meghan Keough took control slashing, toward the basket and firing jump shots, finishing with a game-high 21.
"We came out inspired," Gators coach Laurie Pacholke said. "We hit them hard. But fatigue was an issue in the second half and we were outrebounded pretty significantly."
The Gators (13-14) led by 10 in the first half, but lost the lead in the third quarter on a shot by Titans junior Courtney Jenkins, who led TBT with 13 points. The lead would bounce back-and forth a few times before TBT junior Jasmine Rodriguez scored two of her seven points for a 35-33 lead the Titans would not relinquish.
"We weren't expecting them to throw man-to-man at us," Pacholke said. "That rattled us and I think our youth showed a lot tonight."
The Titans will host Wesley Chapel, which knocked out the Titans in a region quarterfinal last season. Wesley Chapel has a new starting five and a new coach in Karim Nohra, who once coached Tampa Catholic and Cambridge.
Glezen has just three returning varsity players from that game.
"We have some business to take care of," Glezen said. "Last year they knocked us out in the first round. We're going to go in there and play our style of basketball and hopefully come out with a victory."
Izzy Gould can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3458.