TAMPA — Eleven games into Stephanie Crawford's tenure, any questions about her ability to direct a varsity boys team have dissipated. Now, Hillsborough's coach is working on shattering another preconceived notion — that the Terriers play only a frenetic tempo.
Behind a methodical game plan that emphasized offensive patience and boxing out, the Terriers (9-2) earned a berth in tonight's City of Tampa Championship final with a 54-47 victory against Blake (8-2).
The Terriers, who committed only three first-half fouls and held the Yellow Jackets to seven first-half field goals, get their much-desired CTC final rematch at 7:30 against two-time defending champion Tampa Prep (8-0).
"A lot of teams misjudge us," Crawford said. "They think that we're just a running team, we want to go layup for layup, and that's not true. As we displayed tonight I have some pretty good shooters as well."
When senior guards Oscar Henriquez (11 points) and Al'von Woodard (10) weren't draining from outside, the Terriers dribbled around the perimeter until forwards Adolphus Barnes (nine points, six rebounds) or Dixon Phillips (six points) had a decent look underneath.
Barnes' second-chance basket with 4:20 to play in the first half capped a 10-0 run that gave the Terriers a 21-11 lead. His interception and ensuing short basket gave Hillsborough a 28-15 advantage at intermission.
Blake, which managed only four second-period points, never trimmed its deficit below seven the rest of the way. The Jackets failed to exploit their interior size advantage posed by 6-foot-7 seniors Michael McFarland and George Taliaferro, who teamed for 11 points.
Tampa Prep got a huge night from senior Jay Bowie (20 points) and consecutive defensive stands in the final 30 seconds to escape with a 42-38 win against Plant (6-5).
The Panthers trailed 34-23 late in the third before embarking on a 10-0 run capped by Michael Frazier's two free throws with 6:17 to play. They still trailed by only one possession when Bowie nailed a 3 from the right baseline with 1:10 remaining to make it 42-37.
Frazier added a free throw with 51.7 seconds remaining, but the Panthers failed to score on consecutive possessions in the final 30 seconds. Frazier led Plant with 18 points.
"I told our kids that the thing we want to take out of this is, late in the game … when we had to get stops we got stops, and when we had to get a rebound we got a rebound," said Terps coach Joe Fenlon, whose team topped Hillsborough by one in last year's title game.
"I think there's no question Jay Bowie was the difference for us."