INDIAN ROCKS — Steinbrenner came to the Indian Rocks Christian Holiday Tournament with a bad taste in its mouth. And Armwood was unfortunate enough to be the Warriors' first-round opponent Thursday.
What looked like an even matchup saw Steinbrenner cruise to a 58-27 win. The Warriors were the lone Hillsborough County team to advance and will play Calvary Christian in today's 4 p.m. semifinal while host IRC, a 3A squad that dropped 8A Bloomingdale 54-34, will meet Sarasota at 7 p.m.
Six-foot forward Rachel Briere scored 16 points and 6-2 sophomore Courtney Hall grabbed 13 rebounds for Steinbrenner (17-2).
"We got it into the paint really well," said Steinbrenner coach J.R. Allen, saying that was the plan.
Armwood (14-3) entered with two losses by a total of 10 points but never found a shooting range, hitting just 9-of-52. Briere went 6-for-9, Tiffani Brazell popped in 10 points and Taylor Thigpen added nine among the 11 Warriors who scored. Steinbrenner went on an 11-0 run to go ahead 25-13 in the second quarter, part of a 1-for-21 Armwood stretch from the floor.
Allen said his team has extra motivation to win its first holiday tournament, still smarting from letting a last-minute lead slip away against Lakewood Ranch in Fort Myers last weekend.
Armwood did battle hard on the glass, getting seven offensive boards in the fourth quarter alone. Kiana King led the Hawks with nine rebounds. Cyann Fox scored 10 points.
Sickles (12-4) won its division title in the same Queen of Palms tournament Steinbrenner played in, but the success did not carry over. Cierra Wheatley, Sickles' leading scorer at 15.7 points a game, was held to nine and attempted only five field goals. Top outside threat Kassidy Girdler struggled to 1-for-10 from distance.
The Sailors (14-2) led 17-16 at half despite 19 turnovers, then limited that number to two in the third quarter to carry a 30-22 lead.
Indian Rocks Christian and Calvary Christian kept alive the possibility of an all-District 3A-9 championship, though both teams will be considered underdogs today.
Autumn Frost scored 18 points, eight in the first quarter as IRC (9-8) ran out to a 15-2 lead in the final game. Bloomingdale coach Joel Bower subbed out all five players a the end of the period, which saw the Bulls shoot 1-for-11. And while the effort did pick up, and Jacqueline Mayo nearly doubled her season average in the second quarter alone with eight points, IRC was too efficient on offense to catch.
"The girls were having trouble comprehending the offense, but in the last three days (in practice) a switch went on," said Eagles coach Phil Farver. The Eagles essentially run a four-guard approach based on plenty of passing and cutting. It helped they made 6-of-8 from long distance.
The Golden Eagles (9-8) made four 3s in the third quarter while the Bulls (8-9) went 3-for-16 in the same period and it was 45-20.
Brooke Morten had eight assists and seven rebounds while twin sister Hayley claimed 11 rebounds for IRC. Haley Gossard scored 13 points and Rebecca Lizotte had 11.
In the first game Calvary Christian (13-1) jumped on Palmetto in a 66-53 victory. It was 18-7 after one quarter and 42-19 at the half. Saje Schlatterer made a pair of 3s while scoring 10 second-quarter points and finished with 17 for the game, right behind teammate Savannah Plentovich's 19. Kasey Howard scored 11 and Carley Plentovich 10.