ST. PETERSBURG — When St. Petersburg Catholic and Tampa Catholic met in December, Jerica Coley did all she could as the Barons guard dropped in a career-high 42 points. But no one else on SPC scored more than six in a seven-point loss.
On Wednesday, Coley was all-everything again, with timely steals (six), rebounds (six), assists (four), blocks (four) and, of course, points (29) when the Barons needed them. The difference this time was her teammates as sophomore guard Brittney Dunbar, with 16 points, and sophomore forward Annie Artise, with 13, each recorded season highs on the way to a 71-63 upset. The Crusaders (20-2) entered the game as the state's 10th-ranked team overall and riding a 15-game winning streak.
"She's always coming through for us and she did everything she could the last time (in trying to earn a win)," Dunbar said of Coley. "We came together after that game and said that the rest of us needed to step up if we were going to come through for her and help us do well down the stretch."
Another classic in this long-held rivalry, the game was a see-saw affair in which Tampa Catholic went to halftime with a 29-24 lead only to see the Barons (12-2) use a 10-1 run at the beginning of the second half on their way to a 49-43 lead at the end of the third quarter, highlighted by Coley's NBA-range 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"(Coley) is a great player and she showed it again tonight," Tampa Catholic coach Nancy Kroll said. "They had some other players step up for them, too, which was a difference for them.
"But we played two different halves tonight. As good as we were in the first half, we were that bad in the second half."
In the fourth, after Tampa Catholic tied it at 51, baskets by Artise and Dunbar gave the Barons a 56-51 lead before the Crusaders went on a 9-0 run, led by Colette Eule, who scored a team-high 28. Coley, who surpassed 1,500 career points, then took over, scoring 10 consecutive points along with two huge steals and two even bigger blocked shots, during a 10-1 run to seal the game.