Prior to the championship game of the Craig Keeler Memorial Tournament, Academy of the Holy Names coach Jeff Pafunda admitted his team was surprised to be in the final, especially after beating King by only one point in the first round.
As a reward for their survival, the Jaguars were left with the daunting task of playing against tournament favorite St. Petersburg Catholic for the title.
Against the Barons earlier this season, Academy fell behind 21-3 before losing by eight.
In Thursday night's rematch, the Jaguars kept it close in the first half before surrendering to SPC's stingy defense and losing 42-35.
"I think the girls just wanted to have a good showing," Pafunda said. "But in the second quarter, they realized they could beat this team. But we turned the ball over too much and didn't get the shots off that we wanted."
The momentum shifted back and forth in the first half, with the Barons (12-1) leading 24-23 at halftime.
SPC started the second half with a 10-0 run fueled by two three-pointers by Virginia Foster. Meanwhile, it took the Jaguars (9-6) almost seven minutes to score. Academy then went on an 8-2 run to close to within three.
But Academy soon found itself in foul trouble, sending the Barons to the free-throw line five times in the last five minutes of the game. The Jaguars missed all four shots during that span as they found themselves having to look for outside shots.
"We could not get those inside shots," Pafunda said.
"I give credit to St. Pete Catholic. They're the best team in the tournament."
Prior to the championship game, Durant defeated Hillsborough 55-53 in overtime to finish third.
The Barons' Catherine Dupont was named the tournament's most valuable player after her 13-point performance.
Spartans, Bulls win Beef O' Brady's semis
SEFFNER _ After impressive wins in the semifinals, Lakewood and Bloomingdale will meet at 7 tonight for the Beef O' Brady's Holiday Tournament title.
Lakewood started strong and ended stronger, posting a 63-29 win over Land O'Lakes in the first semifinal. Bloomingdale struggled until the final quarter when it outscored Armwood 22-11 for a 54-42 victory.
"Our girls worked together as a team tonight better than they have all season," Lakewood coach Ed Jackson said. "The whole team played well on defense tonight to keep Land O'Lakes' score so low."
The Spartans spread the scoring around, with four players recording double figures. Junior guard Shauna Danford scored a game-high 14.
Following her for Lakewood were senior guard Ashley Sumbry, 13, senior forward Qunisha Rush, 12, and sophomore guard Nicole Pillar, 10.
Bloomingdale and Armwood exchanged the lead three times in the second half before the Bulls went to a man-to-man defense, forcing several turnovers and shutting down the Hawks.
Armwood's Marlana Spencer, a junior forward, scored a game-high 19 points.
Junior center Chandra Hargus led the Bulls with 16 points while Elizabeth Espinosa had 13 and Catie Hartling had 12.
_ TERRY JONES