SEMINOLE — The first half of Northeast's Class 7A, District 9 semifinal against Countryside went so poorly, junior guard Maddie Winningham had a headache. The Vikings trailed by four after and scoring only two points in the second quarter.
So Winningham had a little chat with her teammates at halftime.
"I told them that nobody has a headache but me for yelling so loud," Winningham said. "I told them that they needed to step it up, and we did."
Did they ever.
Northeast went on a 28-1 run and allowed only four second-half points to win 46-21. It is the first time since 1986 the Vikings have qualified for the state playoffs. Northeast (21-6) also set a school record for wins in a season.
The Vikings play top-seeded Clearwater, which beat Seminole 46-22.
"We just played with a lot of heart," Northeast coach Will White said. "We were on the ground for every ball. I think that made a big difference."
Despite the effort, the Vikings had little to show for it in the first half. They led 11-10 after the first quarter, but Countryside went on a 7-0 run to start the second quarter. All Northeast could muster was two free throws and to trail 17-13.
"We played about as poorly as we could, and we were still only down by four points," White said. "That's the way we looked at it. It's not over yet."
Northeast came out hot in the third quarter. Winningham hit a layup and 3-pointer. Laura Fizell got four easy layups. Madison Schmidt started hitting shots underneath and Felicia Waithe hit two shots, including a 3-pointer. Fizell led Northeast with 15 points. Schmidt added 10.
In the second game, Clearwater jumped out to an 8-0 lead and never trailed in beating Seminole for the third time this season. The Tornadoes (21-2) led 21-14 at halftime. The Warhawks hung around in the third thanks to the inside play of Savannah Walker (10 points). But Clearwater outscored Seminole 15-2 in the fourth quarter to seal the game.
Madison Rubino led the Tornadoes with 18 points. Deja Blunt had 10 before she left in the third quarter with a knee injury. Clearwater coach Paul Lang said she likely will sit out tonight but be ready for next week's region opener.
"We had a two-week layoff, and that hurt us a little bit," Lang said. "It took us a half to shake the rust off a little bit."
3A-9: Calvary Christian faced little resistance in the semifinals, cruising past Shorecrest 55-21. The Warriors (20-4) face Admiral Farragut in tonight's final. The Blue Jackets advanced with a 44-33 win over Indian Rocks Christian. Calvary Christian swept Admiral Farragut during the regular season, winning each game by at least 24 points.
But the Warriors face tougher competition in the region, and they will do so without senior Kasey Howard, who sprained her MCL and slightly tore the meniscus in her knee two weeks ago. Her loss is a blow considering she was one of the leaders and just a few points shy of reaching 1,000 for her career.
"Not having Kasey hurts, but we're a team," Calvary Christian coach Brooke Siebert said. "When someone goes down, others have to step up a little bit more."
Thursday, the Warriors shot well from the start, racing out to a 22-5 lead in the first quarter and increasing it to 40-9 by halftime. Savannah Plentovich did the bulk of the scoring from the perimeter. She finished the first half with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Plentovich finished with a team-high 18 points, and Saje Schlatterer added 16.
There was a changing of the guard in the other semifinal as the Blue Jackets secured their second playoff berth in school history. Admiral Farragut did it with a big third quarter, outscoring the Golden Eagles 12-2.
The loss means Indian Rocks Christian will miss the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons.
2A-8: Up 18-12 at halftime, host Keswick Christian outscored Canterbury 40-15 to win 58-27. Ashley Broaderick scored 12 points and Madison Span 11 to lead Keswick. Canterbury was led by Samantha Burgess, who scored 11 points.
"We played the way we have for most of the season,'' Keswick coach Karrmayne King said. "Ashley and Madison played very well.''
The Crusaders face Hernando Christian (10-14) tonight in the final.
Times staff writer Bob Putnam contributed to this report.