WESLEY CHAPEL —A couple of weeks ago, the Hillsborough girls basketball squad had a different idea about how it would spend its winter break.
Maybe spend quality time with family and friends, or maybe go out of town to visit loved ones.
But when Terriers coach Yolanda Driskell was approached by Wildcats coach Karim Nohra at the last minute to play in the Wesley Chapel tournament, she just could not pass it up.
With a squad of six girls and most of their key players on winter vacation, the Terriers defeated a fiesty Gaither team 49-36 Saturday night to put themselves in Monday's tournament final against undefeated Wesley Chapel (12-0). The Wildcats beat Hernando 62-43 later in the night to secure their spot in the 7:30 p.m. final. Gaither and Hernando will meet in a consolation game at 6 on Monday.
"This was a great win because we had to pull up two junior varsity players who run a different offense but have a lot of heart," Driskell said. "We have a few varsity players out for the holidays. It was kind of unexpected, but we were excited to play in this, and this win was great."
From the outset, the Terriers (9-4) seemed determined to not let the Cowboys (4-8) get in any kind of rhythm offensively, forcing Gaither into 23 turnovers for the game and only 13 points in the first half.
Trailing 29-16, Gaither made the game close in the third quarter with a 10- run.
But in the fourth quarter Hillsborough regained control and got a boost from guard Jasmine Hammond (15 points, four rebounds), who had been in foul trouble for most of the game.
Hillsborough got the invite to the tournament because Spoto bowed out after head coach Don Fields had a stroke Dec. 19. Nohra said Fields was still recovering in a hospital as of Saturday.
"I'm praying for him," Nohra said. "He does a great job with his kids and is a good friend of mine. I hope he is well."
Nohra's Wildcats won a sloppy game against Hernando, as the teams combined for 47 turnovers. Wesley Chapel forced Hernando to 18 miscues by halftime.
Wesley Chapel pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Leopards 18-6. The Wildcats were led by Jeileen Mas (12 points) and Shantel Houston (17).
AHN rolls on
TAMPA — Academy of the Holy Names got a game-high 21 points from senior Katie Davis and cruised to an easy 54-22 win over Out-of-Door Academy on Saturday night to advance in the Jaguar Holiday Tournament.
The Jaguars trailed early but took the lead for good midway through the first quarter.
Leading only 8-5 going into the second quarter, AHN turned up its defensive pressure and outscored the Thunder 21-6 in the period to take an 18-point lead.
AHN (5-5) moves on to face unbeaten Clearwater (11-0), which beat Northside Christian 53-35.
Times correspondent Justin Dargahi contributed to this report.