Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Girls basketball: Land O'Lakes overmatched in first state semifinal

LAKELAND — A week of practice at USF prepared Land O'Lakes for Lakeland's arena, but it couldn't brace the Gators for Bradenton Southeast's defensive play.

"Every last game is going to sting, unless you're that champion," coach Phyllis Crain said.

The Gators' (23-5) longest postseason run ended in the Class 5A state semifinals, 49-24 to Southeast. Land O'Lakes' last playoff appearance came in 2011, and the Gators had never advanced past the region final until this season.

"Nobody thought we would come here," said senior Taylor McDonald, adding that most assumed the Gators would fall in the second round. "We have a lot of fight."

Low scoring early spelled doom for bay-area schools throughout the state final four, and Land O'Lakes was no exception. The Gators tried to pull themselves up in the second and third quarters, but were outshot 14-2 in the first and couldn't come back.

"They anticipated the pass. They were quick to the ball," Gators guard Nikki Kraning said. "We also didn't play the game we came to play, either."

Crain said the team's intention was to keep the game slow in the first quarter. The Gators planned to force the Seminoles to take outside shots, but neither team put up many shots from beyond the arc. Southeast finished 0-for-7 on 3-point attempts.

Southeast scored 27 points off turnovers, ending the match with 29 rebounds and 24 steals. Land O'Lakes had more rebounds (32 total, 24 defensive), but just five steals.

When asked if any team Land O'Lakes faced this season had a comparable defense, Kraning laughed: "I don't think so."

McDonald had a team-best 12 points for the Gators, while junior Jhade Hayes was key on defense, with 12 rebounds.

"It's a great season," Crain said. "I'm very proud of these guys."

This is Southeast's fifth final four appearance. The Seminoles (30-1) won their last state championship in 1990, before any of their current players were born. Their last final four was in 2004.

Southeast coach John Harder brought four of his seniors to Lakeland Center when they were freshmen. He wanted them to see what they were aiming for.

After the win, those four girls sat on either side of him.

"It's worthwhile for these kids," Harder said.

The Seminoles' Keshawna Robinson led the day in scoring with 20 points. Janelle Gould added 13, and DeAngela Mathis had 10. Half of Robinson's points were from the free-throw line.

"Defense wins championships," Harder said. "Free throws win the game."

The Seminoles knew going in that McDonald, the Gators' tallest player at 6-foot-2, would present a challenge. Harder said his defense handled her well, though she still stood out as Land O'Lakes' top scorer.

Robinson said she could feel the Gators' frustration as the scoring gap widened.

"I know how it feels to be down that much," she said.

Mathis, too, sensed the Gators' stress, but would expect any team to feel that pressure.

"One thing about that team, they did not give up," Mathis said. "They did not quit playing."

Girls basketball: Land O'Lakes overmatched in first state semifinal 02/21/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 21, 2014 9:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  2. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take CF Kevin Kiermaier long to make his presence felt during his return Friday to the Rays lineup. Kiermaier pretended to have Mariners DH Nelson Cruz's first-inning line drive lined up even as the ball went past him to his right and to the wall.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Mariners, 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    6:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    This is a 2017 photo of Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  4. Bucs journal: Starting defense disappointed holding Jags to 1 rushing yard

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on seven carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 preseason win.

    And its members were disappointed.

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is thrown for a 1-yard loss as he is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) and defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) JVS102
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.