ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg Catholic hadn't lost to Tampa Catholic in more than three years. Entering Friday's matchup, the Barons faced heavy odds with one starter out due to illness and another starter playing with a heavy heart after the death of her grandmother.
Despite those factors, the Barons (6-1) staged a brilliant comeback after trailing by 14 in the second half and almost pulled out a victory before losing 58-55.
"It was a great effort," SPC coach Nick Vandewalle said. "This is what we practice for, games like this. We made some good adjustments towards the end there and we almost pulled it out."
After Tampa Catholic junior Colette Eule made two free throws with nine seconds left, the Barons set up a play for star guard Jerica Coley but she was defended. Nikki Parker got the ball on the inbound pass about 28 feet from the basket and put up a shot, only to have the ball hit the back iron of the rim and bounce out.
The matchup featured Eule, who finished with 26 points and six assists vs. Coley, who seemed to do everything to try to help the Barons continue their win streak against the Crusaders (10-1). Coley finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and four blocks. She who found Kelly McFarlane for a breakaway layup with 14 seconds left. McFarlane was fouled and made the layup to close the gap to one just before Eule's clinching free throws.
"We fought hard in the second half and we almost pulled it out there in the end," Coley said. "We turned the ball over a lot early on and we allowed a lot of easy baskets but we picked up our defense down the stretch."
In the fourth, the Barons went on a 9-2 run before Brennan made a layup to make it 56-52 and set up the ending.