Rachel Parker hit a layup with three seconds left to give Ridgewood High a 46-44 victory over Land O'Lakes in the Class 3A, District 7 girls basketball semifinals Friday night. At 7 p.m. today, Ridgewood (14-10) plays Citrus (18-8), which eliminated Zephyrhills 43-40 in the first semifinal game. The Rams' victory over top-seeded Land O'Lakes was their first in three tries this season. The Gators finish 19-5.
Parker, who scored five of her six points in the fourth quarter, re-entered the game to replace April Fertig, who fouled out with 1:26 left to play. Parker's three-point basket with 5:28 to play gave Ridgewood its first lead, 38-37.
A free throw by Land O'Lakes' Claudine Hawkins with 1:26 left tied the score at 44. After a Gators foul, Ridgewood's Crissy Martin missed the front end of a one-and-one and Land O'Lakes regained possession.
But with 1:03 left, Parker stole the ball from Gators guard Kim Bowers. Ridgewood held the ball and called time out with 24 seconds to set up the winning shot.
All of Martin's six points off the bench came in the second half.
She and Parker combined for all 12 bench points for Ridgewood.
Ridgewood coach Jim Bavetta said he was not surprised by the production of his team's reserves.
"When we had all the injuries early in the year," Bavetta said, "they had to play. I've got nine I can go to."
Land O'Lakes played without senior guard Tammy Campbell (fractured right leg), who is the team's leading scorer (17.3 points per game).
Land O'Lakes' Vaughnette Barry scored a game-high 19 points, hitting seven of nine shots from the field.
In the first game, Citrus fell behind 24-23 on a jumper by Zephyrhills' Tawnya Booker with 3:16 left in the third quarter. The Hurricanes used an 8-0 run to regain control.
Zephyrhills rallied late. A three-pointer by Kathy Hunka and a layup by Lisa Cherry with seven seconds left closed the Bulldogs to 41-40.
With one second left, Zephyrhills fouled Citrus' Joy Porter deliberately. Porter sealed the victory by sinking two free throws.
Citrus starters Linda Gulino and Shelly King fouled out in the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes overcame that, much to the satisfaction of Bruce Nelson.
"That was very satisfying," Nelson said. "Marci Carruthers and Jody Brady both played a good ballgame. Zephyrhills is better than their record."
Zephyrhills finished 7-21.