TAMPA — Heather Glezen was ready to wash the road jerseys and pack the bus.
Tampa Bay Tech was headed to Wesley Chapel for the second time in two seasons, or so she thought.
A 41-40 win Thursday over Land O'Lakes had advanced the Titans to their second region semifinal, the first since 2003.
Glezen soon realized she had misread the Class 5A playoff bracket and was elated to learn the Wildcats were coming to TBT. The main reason: the Titans have not lost at home in two seasons, a streak of 22 games.
"This is our house," Titans junior Courtney Jenkins said. "We're not going to let anyone come in here and disrespect us in our own house."
Jenkins was one of three varsity players on the team last season when the Titans lost 38-34 to Wesley Chapel on the road in a region quarterfinal. Since then, the Wildcats (25-2) have five new starters and first-year coach Karim Nohra, who had a scout in the stands Thursday night.
One thing the scout likely pointed out to Nohra was how not one Titan stood out.
Diversity is one reason TBT has been so tough at home.
The Titans (23-4) learned in December they cannot rely on any one player. On Dec. 31, point guard Leria Jenrette was stabbed in the lower back and missed the following eight games. During her absence, the Titans moved Tashana Bludsaw from the two-guard to the point and flourished along with girls such as Jenkins and Jasmine Rodriguez.
"When she went out we talked about how everyone has to give just a little bit more to make up for ReRe," Glezen said. "We try to stress everyone is just as important as everyone else. Everybody has to contribute and do their job."
The question is whether these experiences have done enough to toughen the girls for a long postseason run. The Gators came within one point of upending TBT at home last week.
The Wildcats have had a remarkable season, and with the return of 6-foot-2 Stetson signee Janelle Mills, look to return to the region final for the second time in two seasons.
"At this level everyone's going to be pretty even," Glezen said. "It's just going to be who wants it more and who works hard in practice."
Izzy Gould can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3458.