SEFFNER — Sabrina Whiting is only a sophomore, but the Seffner Christian guard brought maturity to a team sorely lacking it in Saturday's Class 3A, District 8 final against Brooks-DeBartolo.
After Whiting's halftime observation, the No. 1 seed, which starts two freshmen and three sophomores, erased a five-point deficit to upend No. 2 Brooks-DeBartolo 58-53 for its second straight district title.
At halftime, Whiting pulled coach Greg Fawbush aside and asked him to reconsider the starting lineup for the third quarter.
"It wasn't anything against anybody else," Fawbush said. "She said, 'I've talked to these girls. Give me four minutes.' That's all we needed."
With Whiting, Samantha Plager, Kelly Cunningham, Peyton Walker and Ally Parimore opening the second half, Seffner Christian went on a 10-2 run to take a lead, 36-31, it did not relinquish.
"They were overdenying us, and we could backdoor them," Whiting said.
For much of the first half, Seffner Christian (22-4) played from behind. Behind an aggressive, trapping defense, a Brooks-DeBartolo team that started four seniors and a junior opened the game by scoring 13 of the first 15 points.
But the Crusaders chipped away. By the end of the first quarter, the Phoenix led just 13-10. Seffner Christian grabbed its first lead on Whiting's bucket with 6:55 left in the first half.
Brooks-DeBartolo (17-8) went on a 7-1 run to end the half.
"I think that we were … a little nervous," Fawbush said. "But I knew that we were going to wear them down."
Whiting and Walker kept Seffner Christian in front once it had the lead. Whiting scored a game-high 25 points, and Walker added 22 points and 15 rebounds.
Chelsea White kept Brooks-DeBartolo within striking distance with 18 points and several drives to the basket. Teammate Vintoria Hopps recorded a triple double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 11 blocks.