EAST LAKE — Despite lugging an 0-3 district record into Friday night's game against East Lake, Palm Harbor University made a statement by stomping its rival 54-40 in its own gym.
The Hurricanes led by just five after the first quarter but pulled away in the second to take a 17-point lead into halftime. The Hurricanes stretched the advantage to 19 after three quarters and cruised from there.
"It was so crucial that we win," junior guard Kaylin Ingram said. "It puts us right back in the hunt."
Palm Harbor University will have a long climb back to reach the top of Class 8A, District 8 but Friday's win gave the Hurricanes a shot of confidence.
Ingram hit four 3-pointers to finish with a game-high 16 points. Ingram's sophomore sister, Megan, added eight points but also had four rebounds, a steal and two assists — one to Kaylin in the fourth quarter that extinguished any hope of an Eagles comeback.
"I told the girls before the game that this would be the night where we get back on track," PHU coach Darian Dublin said.
The Hurricanes outhustled the Eagles for loose balls and rebounds for 32 minutes. Sophomore Chardonay Aldrich had a game-high seven rebounds and scored 10 for PHU.
East Lake junior Emily Dine did everything she could to keep her squad in the game, leading with 13 points, but the Hurricanes contested every shot and the Eagles had gaps on defense.
"At first they played tight, so we took our outside shots, then they moved out and we attacked the basket," Ingram said. "We played to their defense really well tonight."
The Hurricanes improved to 10-4, 1-3 in the district, and the Eagles drop to 4-8, 1-3. Both teams are still looking up at Riverview (2-2) and leader North Port (4-0) going into the break.
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