TAMPA — On its way to an anticipated meeting with Clearwater, Jefferson had one thing to check off its to-do list: Palm Harbor University.
Behind its up-tempo attack, outstanding defense and 10 players who tallied points, Jefferson opened the Class 5A region playoffs Thursday with a 79-58 win against Palm Harbor University.
The win sets up a semifinal meeting Tuesday between Jefferson (26-1) and Clearwater (27-2), which defeated Plant in its region quarterfinal game. Palm Harbor University ends its season at 14-13.
The Hurricanes were down 7-0 just moments into the contest and never recovered. PHU managed to close the margin to 12-5 midway through the opening period but never managed to get closer.
With little inside presence, PHU was forced to rely on outside shooting early, but couldn't convert on many chances. Jefferson, meanwhile, kept up its breakneck pace, forcing turnovers and converting on its chances.
The Hurricanes did convert on more offensive chances as the game went on but Jefferson's lead was too much to overcome. The Hurricanes' 14-point halftime deficit stretched to 25 by the end of the third period.
Still, Palm Harbor University got a solid performance from junior guard Sharee Booze, who scored a team-high 23. Freshman guard Katie Gibbons scored 12 and Kristin Fuller added eight.
Jefferson was led by Shayla Wilson's 23 points and 12 points each from Chantrell Frazier and Laurie Beaty.