Girls basketball: Shanel Sweet, Land O'Lakes hold off Wiregrass Ranch

LAND O'LAKES — Shanel Sweet scored the 1,000th point of her career in the early moments of Land O'Lakes' runaway victory over Pasco on Thursday.

Friday against district rival Wiregrass Ranch, Sweet continued her scoring assault.

Mixing a 3-point stroke with penetrating drives to the basket, Sweet registered a game-high 19 points to lead Land O'Lakes to a 51-45 victory over the Bulls.

"Tonight was just my night," said Sweet, who played three years at Gaither before transferring to Land O'Lakes for her senior season.

Sweet spent most of the first half challenging Wiregrass Ranch's zone with her outside shot.

She attempted 11 3-pointers before halftime and made three to help the Gators (15-2) take a 24-22 lead going into the locker room.

Sweet was more patient during the second half.

She hoisted just one 3-pointer, opting instead to drive into the paint, look for a midrange jumper or pass to a teammate open under the basket.

"When she starts missing from the outside, that's when she'll start looking to drive," Gators coach Laurie Tyszko said.

The Gators went on a 6-1 run late in the third quarter to open up an eight-point lead. Wiregrass Ranch (12-8) pulled to within a point at 41-40 with 5:42 left in the game.

But Sweet hit 2 of 3 free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer. And Simone Brown (nine points, 14 rebounds, four blocks) hit a layup to push the lead to five.

Wiregrass Ranch did not get closer than three points the rest of the way.

With 37 seconds to go, Julia Della Penna made two free throws to give the Gators a comfortable five-point margin, and she drove uncontested for a layup with 10 seconds left to ice the victory.

"Wiregrass is a hard team to beat," Sweet said. "They're one of the best challenges that we have in our district.

"We knew this was going to be a tough game."

The Bulls were led by Kayla Deloach. She finished with a double double, scoring a team-high 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. She also had two blocks.

Jeileen Mas added 12 points for Wiregrass Ranch while making 2 of 12 3-pointers.

Bryan Burns can be reached at bburns@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2216.

Girls basketball: Shanel Sweet, Land O'Lakes hold off Wiregrass Ranch 01/14/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 14, 2011 10:59pm]

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