Shortly before traveling to face St. Petersburg, the Patriots of Pinellas Park discovered they would be without coach Hillary Cummings. Forced to miss the game because of a death in the family, Cummings turned the clipboard over to junior varsity coach Kyle Gibson.
Gibson, though, simply handed the keys to senior guard Dominique Jacobs and junior forward Jalisha Foster. In an inspired effort, the two combined for 39 points to power the Patriots over the hosts, 51-46.
"Dominique and Jalisha played big for us tonight," Gibson said. "Jalisha was a force for us inside and Dominique did a great job in controlling the game. The rest of the team filled their roles and followed their lead."
Part of that effort showed up on defense as well. The Green Devils' star forward, Kelly Westfield, who was battling the flu, missed 11 of 13 shots in the first half, as Pinellas Park (3-6) built a 15-7 first quarter lead. Jacobs and Foster were a flurry of activity as Foster denied Westfield numerous times inside with Jacobs picking up loose balls to start the break.
The Green Devils used a full-court press in the second quarter in a 10-2 run, but after a timeout by Gibson, Jacobs took over. Three steals led to buckets from her teammates and Pinellas Park built a 25-18 lead at half.
The second half opened without Westfield, who spent part of the third quarter in the locker room and on the bench. Pinellas Park took advantage, adding to its lead. St. Petersburg (4-4) faced a 31-18 deficit when Westfield entered the game with 4:00 left in the third quarter.
Westfield preceded to make three steals, grab four rebounds, make two assists and score eight points, as St. Petersburg closed the gap to 39-31 at the end of the third. Westfield continued her torrent in the fourth, helping the Patriots cut the lead to two with 12 seconds left in the game.
But Foster came down with a rebound, then Jacobs wound up with the ball, broke the press and was fouled on a layup attempt. She calmly sank two free throws to seal the victory.