ST. PETERSBURG — Midway through the third quarter, St. Petersburg was ahead by 10 points, a big enough lead that the Green Devils started wondering aloud whether they would finally get past the first round of the playoffs.
Then things started to unravel.
St. Petersburg frittered away the lead in the fourth quarter, missed crucial free throws down the stretch and had its momentum doused in a 50-43 loss to Sarasota in the Class 6A region quarterfinals.
It was not the Green Devils' worst defeat of the season, just the most deflating.
"I think we relaxed too much, especially on defense," St. Petersburg coach Tracolya Green said. "And we got outhustled in the end."
A win Thursday would have been quite a coup for the Green Devils, especially since they would have hosted next week's region semifinal after rival Sickles upset Sarasota Riverview.
And for nearly three quarters, it appeared St. Petersburg would do just that. Grabbing rebounds and loose balls, the Green Devils (21-6) scored on enough second chances to go up 31-21 with six minutes left in the third.
The Sailors cut the deficit to 33-28 at the end of the third.
In the fourth, Sarasota took control with Jessica Fischer and Tylar Tracy each converting 3-point plays to put the Sailors within striking distance.
Then Sarasota sharpshooter Kelly Jutras swished a 3-pointer to tie the score at 39.
The Sailors stayed hot, outscoring St. Petersburg 11-5 the rest of the way.
"We dropped the ball, " Green said.
Kamiya Smith (15 points), Danielle Troupe (13) and Jazmyne Green (10) each reached double figures in scoring for St. Petersburg.