TAMPA — With Academy of the Holy Names clinging to an eight-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, coach Christopher Severini figured the Class 4A region semifinal would come down to free throws.
And he liked his team's chances.
"I don't know if we're 19-of-21 good, but we're decent," Severini said.
His Jaguars were indeed 19-of-21 good Tuesday night. Holy Names missed only two free throws down the stretch to earn a 55-42 win at Tampa Catholic. AHN (21-8) faces Fort Myers Dunbar on Saturday in the Jaguars' first region final since 2007 and their eighth in the past 20 years.
Holy Names' free throws and swarming defense were their two antidotes to TC freshman Alise Davis. The Crusaders' six-foot post dominated inside with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Her presence forced AHN outside. The Jaguars struggled early, missing six of their first seven shots and going scoreless through the first five minutes.
Holy Names came back in the second by pressing on defense and switching from a 1-3-1 zone to a 2-3.
"For whatever reason it bothered them," Severini said.
The change resulted in six second-quarter turnovers by TC (17-13) to fuel a 14-0 game-changing run. After Cristina Snyder and Caroline Kimbler drained back-to-back 3s, the Jaguars never trailed again.
Tampa Catholic hung around in the second half long enough to keep it interesting. A three-point play by Davis cut Holy Names' lead to 31-27 early in the fourth, but AHN's free throws sealed it.
Fresh off of a triple double in the playoff opener, Ashley McWilliams made 12 of her 13 free-throw attempts in the fourth to finish with a team-high 14 points. Kimbler scored six of her nine points in the final quarter to help pull away, and freshman Domenica Howard also swished two free throws in the closing minutes.
Mia Blocker finished with nine points for TC, and sophomore Infinity Lyle had eight points and six rebounds for the Crusaders.
3A: Crusaders look ahead, advance easily
SEFFNER — Seffner Christian looked somewhat sloppy Tuesday night, but even a little bit off the Crusaders still handily defeated visiting Fort Meade 65-29 in a Class 3A region semifinal.
"We don't want to say that we knew we were going to win tonight, but we've been game planning for Friday maybe more than we should have," Seffner Christian coach Greg Fawbush said. "I think a little bit of this was on me."
It was the second year in a row SCA has knocked Fort Meade out of the playoffs. The Crusaders (24-5) beat the Miners 62-19 last season in the region quarterfinals.
"We have been looking at Friday night's game," junior Ally Parimore said. "We were thinking Friday, Friday, Friday. And I don't think we worried enough about (Tuesday's) game."
All that being said, the Crusaders took control and were never threatened after a huge second quarter. Leading 17-7 after the first, SCA's full-court press and transition took over and the Crusaders went on a 27-4 run in the second to blow the game open.
"We never really got into a rhythm (Tuesday) like we normally do," Fawbush said. "But. hey, we're moving on."
Sabrina Whiting paced SCA with 22 points, including 15 in the first half. Teammate Peyton Walker (game-high 10 rebounds) added 15 while Sara Denny finished with 13. Seffner Christian will travel to face Mount Dora Bible, a 38-33 winner against Master's Academy, in Friday's region final.
Brandon Wright, Times correspondent
7 p.m. Friday and Saturday
7A: Harmony at Steinbrenner, Saturday
6A: Armwood at Naples Barron Collier, Saturday
4A: Holy Names at Fort Myers Dunbar, Friday
3A: Seffner Christian at Mount Dora Bible, Friday