Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crusaders in regional girls basketball championship game Saturday

Tampa Catholic’s Brittany Betts shoots the ball over Academy of the Holy Names’ Kelli Cartright in Tuesday’s game. Tampa Catholic won 55-53 in overtime.


Tampa Catholic’s Brittany Betts shoots the ball over Academy of the Holy Names’ Kelli Cartright in Tuesday’s game. Tampa Catholic won 55-53 in overtime.


Coming off back-to-back state championships, Brittany Betts wasn't used to losing.

Yet, when the Tampa Catholic girls basketball team stood at .500 just over midway through the season, the junior point guard had her doubts about this year's version of the Crusaders.

"To be honest, I wasn't even sure if we would get through districts," Betts said.

All that has changed. With 11 straight wins and a regional championship game set for Saturday against visiting Fort Myers Dunbar at 7, Tampa Catholic again finds itself one game away from Lakeland's final four.

"We've had some ups and downs this year," senior post player Kai Jones said. "But we all have each other's backs and we've held it all together."

Losing even a handful of games is something TC hasn't been accustomed to the past few years. The Crusaders, 20-9 this year, had lost nine games in the past three seasons combined.

"It's not something these kids have been used to, and the losses kept piling up," coach Nancy Kroll said. "But I kept telling them to 'Hang in there, keep hanging in there.' "

At one point during the season, TC was an average 9-9. But Kroll didn't have to look far to point out a big reason for the Crusaders' mediocrity — injuries.

"We've had a ton," she said.

Kroll tried to run down the list, but it appeared to become laborious. Gracie Dziagwa, Micah Kroll, Danielle Battle and Betts all limped through the early part of the season with various leg injuries. But the biggest loss was Jones, who missed seven games with what she called a "health issue."

"You just can't replace 20 points and 10 rebounds a game," Kroll said. "No one can."

Jones, who scored 27 points against Academy of the Holy Names in Tuesday's 4A Region Semifinal win, is the heart of this year's TC team.

"We know that whoever is guarding Kai can't handle her," Betts said. "So we just want to keep feeding her and feeding her."

With those 11 wins in their back pockets, the Crusaders are poised to make a run at a third state title. And with all players back and up to par, Kroll is more than pleased.

"My assistant (coach) said we are back on track," she said. "Right now we are firing on all cylinders."

Brandon Wright can be reached at

Crusaders in regional girls basketball championship game Saturday 02/16/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 16, 2012 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Crosstown rivals Bloomingdale-Newsome kick off season


    LITHIA — In a week filled with area football rivalries, there is a game on the east side of Hillsborough County — Bloomingdale vs. Newsome — that has matured into a classic crosstown battle, complete with classic cliches.

    Bloomingdale wide receiver Ed Amos charges through a drill a few days before the big rivalry game against Newsome on Friday night.
  2. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Several key players still sidelined


    Greg Auman gives an injury update, with several key players still sidelined from practice three days before the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns in Tampa, and a full recap of your favorite scenes from Tuesday …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans was held out of practice Wednesday at One Buc Place. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  3. Playoff ambitions evident in opener for Zephyrhills, Wiregrass Ranch


    WESLEY CHAPEL — A new football season in Pasco County begins Friday night, but this one promises to be like none before it — with more math than ever. A new playoff system emphasizes schedule strength, making non-district tilts particularly important.

    Wiregrass Ranch wide receiver Jordan Miner catches a pass in spring practice at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel on Monday, May 1, 2017.
  4. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues


    Four days before their preseason home opener against the Cleveland Browns, which had 12 players not stand for the national anthem prior to their last game, the Bucs used their team meeting to discuss social issues that might have led to that demonstration, coach Dirk Koetter said.

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]
  5. Rookie tight end Antony Auclair making case to stick with Bucs


    Don't let his modest preseason stats fool you: Antony Auclair, the undrafted rookie tight end from Canada is making a strong case to stick around on the Bucs' 53-man roster this season.

    Bucs tight end Antony Auclair (82) collides with a defender following a catch during training camp. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]