Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Sports

Girls basketball: Land O'Lakes preps for first state final four

LAND O'LAKES — When Pamela Andrade walked into first period Tuesday morning, two cheerleaders broke into applause. In fifth period, someone wrote, "Congratulations" on the white board.

The senior guard is a key part of the first Land O'Lakes team to reach the state semifinals. Saturday, the Gators (23-4) clawed past powerful Citrus (25-4) in the Class 5A region final 40-37.

"We have gotten great support from throughout the school," coach Phyllis Crain said. "Everyone's behind them."

The Gators practiced at USF this week to prepare for today's game against Bradenton Southeast (29-1) at The Lakeland Center. They will play in an arena and on a larger court, but Crain said they're comfortable with both.

They'll need that comfort level against Southeast.

The Seminoles' lone loss came in November, 62-50 to Sarasota, which reached the Class 7A state semifinals. Three of Land O'Lakes' losses came to district powerhouse Gulf.

The Seminoles average 56.6 points and 31.4 rebounds to the Gators' 45.6 points and 29.2 rebounds.

Southeast boasts a veteran team with only one underclassman in the starting lineup and is led in scoring by 5-foot-10 seniors DeAngela Mathis (14.9 points per game) and Keshawna Robinson (14.4).

Andrade is the only Gator who remembers what it was like in 2011, the last time Land O'Lakes made the playoffs. She was on the junior varsity as a freshman.

"I looked up to them so much," Andrade said. "It felt great to get to school, and everyone looked up to them."

In 2011, Land O'Lakes rallied around senior Shanel Sweet, the 2010-11 Tampa Bay Times' North Suncoast player of the year. She was also a mentor to many of the girls, including Andrade.

Now, Andrade said, there is no single player who draws all of the attention. Junior Jhade Hayes (13.7 points per game) is the team's top scorer followed closely by sophomore Makala Canada, senior Taylor McDonald and Andrade.

"We're a family," Andrade said. "I love these girls so much."

The crowds started smaller this season than in 2011, Andrade said, when Sweet drew many fans. But the bleachers filled as the Gators kept winning.

"I think we really wanted it," Andrade said. "I think other schools were talking bad about us, but we had that motivation."

This is Crain's first playoffs with the Gators. She took over in 2011, after Sweet graduated.

It took a little while for this season's girls to learn they could trust each other, Crain said, but once they did, "I think the girls finally came together and believed in a team effort."

Crain said it's hard to pinpoint one primary factor that makes this team different from previous Land O'Lakes ones but noted one contributing one.

"Their heart," she said. "That's what got them this far."

Mary Kenney can be reached at [email protected]

Comments

Girls basketball: Tampa Bay Tech pulls away late

TAMPA — When Jalyn Spurlin played for Brandon High her first two seasons, she felt "like I had to be everything; everything was on me."Since transferring to Tampa Bay Tech, a team with seven seniors, including Division I-A-bound Janae...
Updated: 4 minutes ago

Wednesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballGeorgia at South Carolina6:30 p.m.SECXavier at Georgetown6:30 p.m.FS1North Carolina at Syracuse7 p.m.ESPNGeorgia Tech at Virginia7 p.m.ESPN2Texas Tech at Oklahoma State7 p.m.ESPNUSMU at East Carolina7 p.m.ESPNewsClemson at Virg...
Updated: 20 minutes ago

Girls basketball: Kaliah Henderson propels Robinson

TAMPA — As the post-game celebration subsided, Robinson junior Kaliah Henderson found a secluded spot on the emptied stands to relax, and perhaps reflect, after going non-stop for the Knights in Tuesday's Class 6A region semifinal.Told she had ...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Nikita Kucherov’s trick shot sends Lightning past Capitals

Nikita Kucherov’s trick shot sends Lightning past Capitals

WASHINGTON — When Capitals goalie Braden Holtby got beat by Nikita Kucherov on his stunning fake breakaway shot in the past, the former Vezina Trophy winner spoke in admiration."It's a great move," Holtby said. "He's one of those players who th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays trade team MVP Steven Souza Jr. in three-team deal that nets prospects

Rays trade team MVP Steven Souza Jr. in three-team deal that nets prospects

PORT CHARLOTTE — Evan Longoria traded in December. Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson dumped over the weekend. Then, in a stunning move Tuesday night, 2017 team MVP Steven Souza Jr. shipped to Arizona as part of a three-team deal that netted onl...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Baseball: Calvary Christian picks up where it left off

Baseball: Calvary Christian picks up where it left off

CLEARWATER — This year's version of the Calvary Christian baseball team looks an awful lot like last year's team. The Warriors, who went 30-0 in 2017 and won the Class 4A state championship, picked up where they left off Tuesday night with a 6-...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Who are Anthony Banda and Nick Solak

So, who did the Rays get back for RF Steven Souza Jr.?LHP Anthony Banda, 24, who appeared in eight games/four starts for the Diamondbacks last season, and 2B Nick Solak, 23, from the Yankees organization in addition to two players to be named later f...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Girls basketball: Tampa Catholic gets coveted rematch

TAMPA — Tanyia Gordon looked at the basket and shot the first free throw. The ball hit the back of the rim, bounced several feet high and came down perfectly through the net.Her second attempt? A carbon copy of the previous one."Never, never (h...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Girls basketball: Fivay reaches another milestone

NEW PORT RICHEY — This season has been one of firsts for Fivay's girls basketball team.The Falcons clinched their first postseason appearance in school history, then notched the program's first playoff win. Tuesday night, the Fal...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Steven Souza trade: Instant reaction to the Rays latest deal

Steven Souza trade: Instant reaction to the Rays latest deal

The Rays traded right fielder Steven Souza, Jr., their 2017 team MVP, to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night in a three-team deal for Arizona's No. 2 prospect, lefty Anthony Banda, Yankees infield prospect Nick Solak and two players to be named...
Updated: 3 hours ago