Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Sports

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."

Comments

Overtime favors Countryside in girls hoops bout with Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Two similarly successful teams in Clearwater and Countryside combined for one exciting game.Facing each other Tuesday night in a brilliant, all-out girls basketball battle, one unfortunate play turned the tide.Leading by two p...
Updated: 1 hour ago
UNC streak over Clemson at 59-0

UNC streak over Clemson at 59-0

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Graduate transfer Cameron Johnson scored a season-high 21 to help No. 15 North Carolina hold off No. 20 Clemson 87-79 on Tuesday night, improving its all-time home record against the Tigers to 59-0. It’s the longest home winning s...
Updated: 2 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Jan. 16

Tuesday’s scoreboardGirls soccerLennard 8, Blake 0Osceola 1, Clearwater Central Cath. 0Boys soccerIndian Rocks Chr. 4, Bishop McLaughlin 0
Updated: 2 hours ago

Wednesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballTulsa at Temple6 p.m.ESPNewsVillanova at Georgetown6:30 p.m.FS1Dayton at St. Joseph’s6:30 p.m.CBSSNArkansas at Florida7 p.m.ESPN2; 1250-AMSMU at Wichita State7 p.m.ESPNUAuburn at Alabama7 p.m.SECUSF at East Carolina7 p.m.820-AM...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Celtics, Olympics legend White dies

Celtics, Olympics legend White dies

BOSTON — Basketball Hall of Famer Jo Jo White, a two-time NBA champion with the Celtics and an Olympic gold medalist, died Tuesday. He was 71 and had been battling cancer in recent years, though no cause of death was provided. In a statement, the Cel...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Five straight goals lift Rangers past Flyers

Five straight goals lift Rangers past Flyers

NEW YORK — Rick Nash scored twice while the Rangers notched five straight goals in a 5-1 victory over the Flyers on Tuesday night. Jordan Weal put Philadelphia up 1-0 before Nash, J.T. Miller, Paul Carey and Michael Grabner combined to make it 5-1 by...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Updated: 3 hours ago

Largo rallies past Palm Harbor University 3-2, wins PCAC north

LARGO — Prior to Tuesday night's game against Palm Harbor University, Largo coach Dan Flynn gave his team a pep talk that may have been slightly embellished. He told his team that he talked to fellow coaches, who told him they had little chance...
Updated: 3 hours ago

MAKING NEWSNASSAR VICTIM: ‘YOU ARE A REPULSIVE LIAR’One of the dozens of victims expected to testify at the sentencing hearing of a disgraced former Michigan sports doctor Tuesday described the sexual abuse Larry Nassar inflicted on her as a child an...
Updated: 4 hours ago
A win, a few doubts

A win, a few doubts

MELBOURNE, Australia — One fine match does not make a comeback.Novak Djokovic’s elbow or some other body part may get sore again as the rallies and the serves pile up. His confidence, rattled before he took his involuntary six-month break from the ga...
Updated: 4 hours ago