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No room for mercy at elite level

LAKELAND — It was a long day for Tampa Bay's girls basketball teams at the state tournament in Lakeland — no wins, three losses, none of them close.

Two of the losses, both state semifinals, were by nine points, and the state championship game was FAMU's 57-34 triumph over Academy at the Lakes, which truthfully wasn't quite that close.

The combined final record of the three teams that lost is 86-11, so it's not like bad teams snuck through to state.

Very good ones did.

There just happened to be better teams waiting there for them.

Here are 10 things that happened:

1. Man, the Lakeland Center was cruel to 3-point shooters. Calvary Christian shot 35 of them, and made just 10. Seffner Christian shot 13, and made just two. And Academy at the Lakes shot 15 and made five, two in the final seconds.

"The first half was a struggle," said Calvary Christian's Carley Plentovich, who made 6-of-26 shots overall. "It takes a little bit to get used to."

2. But it wasn't just 3-point shooting. None of the three local teams shot better than 32 percent.

3. Calvary Christian coach Brooke Sibert asked if the plan was to "chuck" it up there after her team shot 35 3-pointers, the second most it has shot all season. She replied that she doesn't consider shooting 3s chucking anything.

Sure, the Crusaders shot 10-for-35 from beyond the arc, but they shot only 4-for-33 inside it.

I say, chuck away, girls, chuck away.

4. Carley Plentovich and twin sister Savannah are 14-year-old freshmen. They combined to shoot only 7-for-35, but the Crusaders' future is bright. Despite shooting just 20 percent, I thought they played the best game of all three local teams.

5. AATL ran up against a superior team. But Seffner Christian and Calvary Christian weren't overmatched, they just underperformed.

Seffner fouled three players out, missed some devastating layups and coach Greg Fawbush was convinced his team was beaten badly on the boards.

Actually, the Crusaders outrebounded Miami Country Day 46-40, but MCD had so much more success on second chances it certainly felt like Seffner Christian was outrebounded.

But the Crusaders may be back. They return plenty of talent.

6. FAMU won a second straight 2A title Wednesday night, beating Academy at the Lakes. AATL coach Karim Nohra took a long time to get here, and now in back-to-back years he was been beaten pretty good by the Baby Rattlers.

Don't tell him their two best players are back next year until at least Monday, okay?

If Nohra does get back to Lakeland, it will be his finest coaching job yet, as he loses his two best players.

But hey, he took teams to the regional final in 2009, 2010 and 2011, finally broke through to state in 2012, and coached in his first state championship game last night.

What's next? Well …

7. Nohra wrote on his whiteboard in the locker room "Everybody must rebound. If we don't, we will lose."

FAMU had 26 offensive rebounds, and 45 overall. AATL had 29.

8. "We were outgunned. We were outmatched. We were outtalented. We were outskilled. We were outathleticized," Nohra said.

I'm pretty sure at least two of those aren't even words, though.

9. The leading scorers for each local team came into Wednesday averaging a combined 50 points a game this year.

In Lakeland, they combined for 30 points and shot 30 percent.

10. Okay, Lakewood and Freedom, you're up next. Don't let Tampa Bay go 0-for-5, okay?

No pressure.

No room for mercy at elite level 02/20/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 9:46am]
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