ZEPHYRHILLS — In one of two semifinal routs, Countryside crashed the Bulldog Invitational with a vengeance on Tuesday night with a 56-10 victory over Zephyrhills.
The Cougars (10-3) came loaded with a 12-player roster, and every one of those girls scored in the win. Countryside kicked off the game with a 19-0 run. The lead was 42-2 by halftime.
On the other hand, Zephyrhills (2-9) was playing without four of its starters for various reasons. Some of the players were gone for holiday vacation, while starting point guard Jen Patria is likely out for the season due to a torn right ACL she suffered earlier this month.
"It's really devastating for us," Zephyrhills coach Jerry Stacy said. "She's the leader for us and has been for us for a while."
Showing how well the team spread the ball around, only one Countryside player finished in double figures — reserve guard Quashauna Nash (10 points). She reached the mark by halftime. Nash had averaged only 2.8 points per game this season.
"Zephyrhills was missing most of their better players," Countryside coach Andy Lieb said. "We shot the ball better than we've shot it all year, so that helped a lot, too."
McKeel Academy left no doubt in the early semifinal about which team Countryside would face in the championship game of the tournament.
With Jasmire Brown on the bench with foul trouble, Hernando had no answer for the Wildcats as McKeel advanced 61-38.
Despite sitting out 10 minutes of play in the first half, Brown finished with a game-high 19 points and a team-high seven rebounds. She led a spurt in the third quarter that got the Leopards (6-6) within seven points, but McKeel (14-3) soon widened the gap on the way to its berth in the championship game.
The Wildcats edged Hernando 43-24 in rebounding in the contest. This domination in the paint was thanks in large part to the play of McKeel center Heather Smith (14 points, 17 rebounds, three blocks).