TAMPA — Tampa Catholic forward Sarah Brennan limped off the court Monday night, turned into a 5-foot-11 rag doll for some of the second half in the Crusaders' home game against Clearwater.
"It feels like I've been hit by a Mack truck," she said.
But Brennan's play fueled a third-quarter rally that eventually led to the Crusaders' 65-54 win. The senior scored 11 of her game-high 22 during a third quarter that saw Tampa Catholic open up a 13-point lead after leading by five at the half.
Most of her baskets were the product of guards Meghan Keough and Micah Kroll breaking through double teams to find Brennan speeding downcourt. At times, it meant a hard foul near the hoop.
"We were expecting it," Brennan said. "We knew they were physical and tough. It's awesome that we were able to beat them at home as well as on the road."
After a 3-pointer by Victoria Cecil (10 points) cut the lead to 30-28 early in the third quarter, Brennan scored 11 of Tampa Catholic's next 16 while holding Clearwater to three field goals the rest of the quarter.
"They took a couple chances defensively and we were getting the ball to the open person," Tampa Catholic coach Nancy Kroll said. "We were making the extra pass. I yelled at Sarah to take it hard to the basket."
Tampa Catholic (11-1) won its second game over the Tornadoes this season by shutting down Clearwater's perimeter game. Clearwater (11-3) hit eight 3-pointers, but the Crusaders stopped twin-duo Latrel (six points) and Lashe Kirkland (14). It didn't help that Latrel received her fourth foul with 5:48 in the first half and Lashe was tagged with her third with 3:40 before halftime.
"We definitely knew what players to key on this time," Brennan said. "I think our inside game saved us. They hit all their 3s, but once we went inside we took over, and our defense really saved us."
The Crusaders converted 11 of 14 free throws — including 6-for-6 from Micah Kroll — in the fourth quarter. Kroll finished with 16, and Keough added 13 and Colette Eule scored 10.