TAMPA — Gibbs guard Fahran Franklin may have been unsure whether her desperation heave a few steps beyond the 3-point line was true in the waning seconds of the Gladiators' semifinal matchup with St. Petersburg at the 10th annual Jaguar Holiday Tournament.
The eruption from the Gladiators' bench, however, followed soon after by Franklin's ear-to-ear grin, told the story.
Franklin's long-range bomb with two seconds remaining Monday erased a miserable second-half shooting performance from Gibbs and catapulted the Gladiators to a 35-34 victory and spot in the tournament final where they will face Clearwater, a 51-38 semifinal winner over host Academy of the Holy Names.
After scoring the first 14 points and leading the entire game, Gibbs (13-1) watched helplessly as St. Petersburg clawed its way back. The Green Devils (9-4) trailed by only five at the end of the third quarter, and consecutive free throws from Dominique Pruitt (game-high 11 points) tied the game at 32 with 4:01 to go.
Jazmyne Green's uncontested layup at the one-minute mark gave the Green Devils their first lead. St. Petersburg could have pushed the lead to four with 20 seconds left but missed the front end of a one-and-one, setting up Franklin's heroics.
"My coach just had confidence in me to hit the last shot, and that's what I did," Franklin said.
Franklin's 3-pointer, her first after two earlier misses from long range, was only the second field goal for Gibbs after halftime. The Gladiators managed just nine second-half points.
"(St. Petersburg) picked it up on defense," Franklin said. "I've got to give it to them."
Clearwater, meanwhile, took care of Academy of the Holy Names behind Artajah Collins' 16 points and 13 rebounds.
The undefeated Tornadoes (14-0) jumped ahead 11-4. AHN (5-6) cut the lead to four midway through the second, but Clearwater pulled away.
J'Beria Davis added eight points and five boards for Clearwater, which had 10 more rebounds than AHN. The Barons' Katie Davis scored a game-high 20 points and had 13 rebounds.
Keswick Suncoast Classic
St. Thomas More 50, McLean 33: St. Thomas More (Hamilton, Canada) and McLean (Va.) came to St. Petersburg to enjoy the sun and sand while also squeezing in some basketball.
Both teams showed signs of catching some rays but the McLean players looked as if they were still at the beach as St. Thomas More won the championship.
"It was a total team effort from start to finish and we were able to play everybody, which was a good thing," St. Thomas More coach Blaize Spironello said.
The Knights have finished their season in Canada, going 30-7 with a second-place showing in the province. Brittany MacFarlane, who has signed with Fairfield, scored 19 for the Knights and earned the Most Valuable Player award.
In the consolation game, Cali Dickman scored 13 in Seminole's 50-46 victory over Mount Dora.
In the third-place game, Tori Hale had 22 points in Keswick Christian's 42-38 win over Clearwater Central Catholic. Hale scored 16 down the stretch as the Crusaders held off a late rally.
Chris Girandola, Times correspondent