ST. PETERSBURG — When Tampa Catholic junior Colette Eule stepped to the free-throw line with nine seconds left and her team leading by one point, she knew two things.
One, the Crusaders (10-1) hadn't beaten St. Petersburg (6-1) Catholic during her three years on varsity. Not in regular-season, tournament or district play.
And two, if Tampa Catholic was going to pull out a victory, she needed to sink those free throws.
The standout forward did just that and, after St. Petersburg Catholic's Nikki Parker's 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim, the Crusaders held on 58-55.
"I was nervous, especially with the crowd going crazy like it was," said Eule, who led the Crusaders with 26 points. "But I knew I needed to concentrate. It feels great to have finally beat them."
The matchup featured Eule vs. St. Petersburg Catholic star guard Jerica Coley, who seemed to do everything to try to help the Barons continue their win streak. Coley finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and four blocks. Coley 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."
Tampa Catholic led 33-26 at halftime thanks to Eule's 15 points and jumped out to a 14-point lead on an 11-4 run capped by Sarah Brennan's layup. But the Barons stormed back with a 7-0 run to end the quarter.
In the fourth, after the Crusaders stretched the lead to 52-43, the Barons went on a 9-2 run before Brennan made a layup to make it 56-52 and set up the ending.