TAMPA — Bre Crum scored a game-high 27 points as Sickles captured its sixth consecutive victory in a 66-44 triumph at Freedom on Friday.
The junior guard dominated the second half, scoring 13 points in the third quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers to open and close the frame. After Freedom cut the Sickles lead to 32-28 on a 3-pointer by Kaitlynn Pacholke, Sickles went on a 19-3 run to effectively put the game out of reach. Crum's 3 at the buzzer put an exclamation point on a dominant quarter by the Gryphons (14-8).
"Our kids were ready," Sickles coach Mark Key said. "The last time we got the short end of the stick with our two kids out, and we felt that they disrespected us. We were ready to play tonight."
In that first game Dec. 14, the Patriots (15-5) took advantage of a Sickles lineup that did not include Crum or Amber Henson — arguably their two best players — and won in a rout 69-32.
In the rematch, Crum and Henson accounted for 50 of their team's 66 points.
Emotions boiled over after the final buzzer as players and coaches from both teams engaged in some spirited trash-talking, with the Gryphons enjoying a victory celebration on their district rival's logo.
"They're a great 1-2 punch," Freedom coach Laurie Pacholke said of Crum and Henson, "but I thought we fought hard, and that's what I love about this team."
Though Kaitlynn Pacholke scored 18 points and had a game-high five 3-pointers, the Patriots ran out of gas in the second half.
Laurie Pacholke attributed her team's late struggles to fatigue, as the Patriots were playing their third game in three days and fifth of the week.
"I knew fatigue was going to be a factor, so I have no problem with it" Pacholke said. "We're going to get them again, it's going to be the rubber match, and we'll see them in the district championship."