Osceola staged a furious fourth-quarter rally, but fell 42-37 to Bradenton Southeast in the Class 3A, District 11 girls basketball championship game Saturday night at St. Petersburg High. Southeast (28-1) advances to the regional championship on Tuesday. Osceola ends the season 23-6 and runner up in the district for the third time in the last four years.
Bev Copeland scored a game-high 15 points, Keira Rozier added 11, plus nine rebounds, and Teressa Martin chipped in six points and 12 rebounds to pace Southeast. Osceola was led by Tonita Lawson's 13 points and Yataye Keaton's eight. Sonia Randle and Lisa Williams scored six points each.
"I'm very, very excited that we were able to hold on, and that's just what we did was hold on," said Southeast coach John Harder.
After trailing by as many as nine points (26-17) late in the second quarter, Osceola clawed its way back into contention, trailing only 36-34 with 2:28 left in the game.
But Williams, Osceola's starting point guard, went down with an ankle injury during the rally.
Southeast responded with a driving basket by Carol Miller and two Rozier free throws to open the lead to 40-34.
"We needed to get over the hump," Osceola coach Tom Shaneyfelt said. "If we could have tied it, we could have made them go to a man-to-man (defense) and we would have had a real chance."
A Lawson three-pointer that made it 40-37 gave Osceola one last hope with 11 seconds to go, but Copeland sank two free throws three seconds later to seal the title for Southeast.
Class 2A, District 11: Clearwater Central Catholic guard Shelly Sanders scored 22 points, including 12 free throws without a miss, to pace a 49-33 victory over Sarasota Cardinal Mooney in the girls 2A-11 girls basketball championship Saturday night at Cardinal Mooney.
The Marauders (24-4) ended Mooney's season at 14-15 and advanced to the regional title game at Frostproof next week.
"I was very pleased with our performance," said CCC coach Dean Soles. "It was mainly a defensive team effort that pulled us through."
The game was close the entire first half, although Mooney never captured the lead. The biggest lead of the half was five points by CCC early in the first quarter.
_ Correspondent Mike Phillips contributed to this report.