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Pats, Tornadoes, Vikings, Warriors, CCC advance

Angela Meiser poured in 34 points and Davrhy Henderson added 24 Fridaynight as top-seeded Pinellas Park pounded Dunedin 91-49 in the semifinals of the Class 4A, District 7 girls basketball tournament.

Clearwater also advanced into the championship game with a convincing 81-37 victory over Largo behind 20 points by forward Christa Thomas.

Pinellas Park (30-1), the defending district titlists and Class 4A state runner-up will meet the Tornadoes (23-5) tonight at 6 p.m. at Pinellas Park High School for the 4A-7 title.

Meiser and Henderson ignited the Patriots to a 25-3 first quarter lead with a running offense and stifling defense that limited the Falcons to 1-of-13 shooting and leaving no doubt as to the outcome.

Meiser had 16 points by halftime as the Patriots led 46-13 and cruised to the win.

"We're right where we want to be," said Pinellas Park coach Ed Jackson. "I'm really pleased, we're looking for good things. We've been fortunate enough to play well."

The Falcons were led by Emily Hyde with 13 points and Gina McGee with 11 as they end their season with an 8-16 record.

In the second game Clearwater overwhelmed Largo with a strong inside game that featured Thomas, Susan Gentry (10 points), Mary Battle (13) and Tricia Van Wagner (13).

The Packers (4-17) fell behind 22-7 in the first period and were down 41-14 at the half as the Tornadoes shot 59 percent.

"This was only Christa's third start and she came through," said

Clearwater Coach Kessinger. "Our depth has been a plus for us. We're not going to back off (to Pinellas Park). It's going to be a running ball game."

Class 4A, District 8: Marshall Gotte, coach of host Northeast, said his team had something to prove in the 4A-8 tournament, and it did.

The host Vikings made believers out of their coach and Bradenton Manatee on Friday night, completing a 56-49 upset of the No. 2-seeded Hurricanes in the semifinals of the Class 4A, District 8 girls basketball tournament. Kisha Conway led the way with 23 points.

The Vikings (12-12), seeded last in the six-team tournament, face another uphill battle tonight at 7:30 when they face top-seeded Sarasota Riverview (24-4) in the championship game. Riverview, ranked sixth in Class 4A, pounded Dixie Hollins 70-38 in the other semifinal Friday night.

"They (Manatee) came in a little overconfident, and we had something to prove," Gotte said. "But in our pregame talk, I knew we were ready."

Northeast wasted little time making its point with Manatee (15-10).

The Vikings, with Conway pumping in 15 points, jumped out to a 10-2 lead and stretched it to 31-16 at the half.

Rebounding played a large part in the decisive first half, with Northeast enjoying a 29-13 edge.

"The kids felt like, if we outrebound you, we're going to beat you," Gotte said.

Defense played a part as well. In their Jan. 9 meeting in Bradenton, Manatee eked by Northeast 58-56 behind 30 points from 6-foot-2 center Wendy Huelsman.

But Huelsman, double-teamed by Jackie Hooper and Brandy Friedman, was not nearly as effective this time around. Huelsman totaled 13 points and was one of only four Hurricanes players who managed to score. Jennifer O'Connor led with 19.

"I don't know what happened," Manatee coach Steve Olsen said. "We just couldn't get going."

The Hurricanes regrouped for a final surge in the fourth quarter, deploying a full-court press. But the defensive measure came too late as Conway broke the press for a pair of fast-break baskets that lifted Northeast to a 54-43 advantage with 1:40 left.

Riverview put the game out of reach early against Dixie Hollins (13-11). The Rams led 46-14 at the half as starters Cindi Hayden (15) and Pat Lassa (11) got all their points by the intermission.

The Rebels were led by Daphni Black, who had 15 points.

Class 3A, District 11: Osceola and Bradenton Southeast advanced to the 3A-11 final with solid victories at St. Petersburg High.

The Warriors (23-5) got past Lakewood 45-31, and the fifth-ranked Seminoles (27-1) rolled over St. Petersburg 72-40. The Warriors and Seminoles meet in today's 7 p.m. title game. Earlier this season, Southeast edged Osceola on its home court 54-51.

"Hopefully, we can win this one," Osceola coach Tom Shaneyfelt said of tonight's game. "We think we match up with them very well."

Osceola matched up with Lakewood much better Friday with Spartans guard Tonya Williams out of the starting lineup with a sprained ankle.

With the Spartans' leader on the bench, Lakewood struggled to stay close with Osceola for much of the first half, falling behind by only eight points (22-14) at the half.

The outmanned Spartans succumbed in the third period when the Warriors outscored them 12-5 for a 34-19 lead entering the final period. The Warriors went to their stall offense and exhausted the last eight minutes.

Osceola was led by Tonita Lawson (19 points), Sonia Randle (nine points, 10 rebounds) and Yataye Keaton (eight points, 11 rebounds).

Lakewood got 10 points from Nikki Mitchell and eight points from Lisa Rowe.

"We didn't come ready to play," said Lakewood coach Larry West, whose defending state champion club ends the season 19-6. "We beat this team twice during the season and then for us to come in here like this. I don't think we thought we could win it."

St. Petersburg (15-10) probably thought the same thing. Before the first quarter was over, the Green Devils were already down 23-4. By intermission it was 43-13. The taller Seminoles had their way with the Green Devils from beginning to end, and led by as many as 35 points (67-32) in the middle of the fourth quarter.

The Green Devils were paced by Sabrina Herring's 16 points. The Warriors were lead by Tina Parillo's 20 points. Teresa Martin added 17 points, plus 17 rebounds, Keira Rozier chipped in 12 and Bev Copeland contributed 11.

Class 2A, District 11: It took host Sarasota-Cardinal Mooney three

overtimes to beat Tampa Catholic 52-50 and reach today's 2A-11 final.

Clearwater Central Catholic escaped after a close call in regulation.

CCC squeaked by Palmetto 34-33. Michelle Martinez hit two free throws with 1:20 left in the game to give CCC a 34-31 lead.

The Marauders had beaten Palmetto twice this season, but the Crusaders couldn't get going and the game was close the entire way.

CCC's Holly Soles only had two baskets, but both were three-pointers, and both were when Palmetto seemed to be getting the upper-hand. Soles' baskets helped keep the spark in an otherwise lackluster performance by CCC.

Cardinal Mooney's Kate Hallman hit a basket with eleven seconds left in the first overtime to tie it up, sending it into a second overtime. After playing deadlock in the second overtime, Cardinal Mooney hit four free throws to give them the win sending them to the district finals. Class A, District 10: Sophomore forward Kia Kenney hit two free throws with three seconds left to secure a 40-37 win for host Bradenton Christian (17-7) over Keswick Christian (12-11) in the semifinals of the A-10 tournament.

With the win, the Panthers will face Sarasota Christian tonight at 7:30 in the championship game. The Blazers downed St. Petersburg Catholic 53-42 in the first game of the night.

Bradenton Christian held a 20-15 advantage at halftime, a lead they didn't give up the rest of the way. Keswick kept it close throughout the contest and managed to close the game to one point on freshman Becky Loden's jump shot with 18 seconds left.

Bradenton Christian managed to inbound the ball and kept it away from the defense until Kenney was fouled with three seconds left.

"We played well, but a lot of shots just didn't fall for us," said Keswick Christian head coach Karrmayne King. 'It kind of hurts to lose this way, but we played well."

In the first game, St. Petersburg Catholic (12-12) went on a strong third quarter surge, but it wasn't enough to overcome a 26-8 halftime lead by Sarasota Christian (14-10).

- Staff writers Darrell Fry and Mike Tapp and correspondents Bill Gordon and Steven Gotfried contributed to this report.

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