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Tampa Bay Tech in no hurry to leave home

Courtney Jenkins and the Titans intend to keep their streak of 22 home victories alive when they host Wesley Chapel in a region semifinal.

MICHAEL C. WEIMAR | Times

Courtney Jenkins and the Titans intend to keep their streak of 22 home victories alive when they host Wesley Chapel in a region semifinal.

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 izzygould@gmail.com or (813) 226-3458.

tonight

Region semifinals

All games at 7

6A, Sarasota (19-6) at Sickles (21-6): The Gryphons overcame a slow start to beat Sarasota Riverview in the quarterfinals. They can thank Sarasota for beating St. Petersburg, which beat Sickles three times this season.

5A, Clearwater (23-3) at Jefferson (26-1): A very, very good bay area team will not advance to the region finals. And this might be the first time the Dragons have been an underdog since the first month of the season.

5A, Wesley Chapel (25-2) at Tampa Bay Tech (23-4): The Titans have won nine of their past 10, but beat Land O'Lakes by only one in the region quarterfinal. Five TBT players average at least seven points, with Courtney Jenkins (13.2) and Jasmine Rodriguez (12.4) leading the way.

3A, St. Petersburg Catholic (21-6) at Tampa Catholic (26-2): The Crusaders won all three previous meetings, which were decided by a combined 10 points. Two of the area's best scorers — TC's Colette Eule and SPC's Jerica Coley — face off one more time.

2A, Tampa Prep (15-9) at Fort Meade (15-10): The Terrapins have won their past four, while the Miners have won seven of their past eight after starting 4-5.

A, Seffner Christian (15-10) at Cambridge (13-10): Seff­ner has beaten Cambridge two of the three times this year, but Cambridge got the best of Seffner in the district championship to give the Lancers homecourt advantage tonight.

On the Web

Clearwater-Jefferson is our game of the night, so check out highschool.tampabay.com on Wednesday for video highlights.

Eduardo A. Encina,

Times staff writer

Tampa Bay Tech in no hurry to leave home 02/16/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 16, 2009 10:03pm]
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