After upsetting Central to advance to the Class 6A, District 6 semifinals at Citrus on Thursday, Springstead had dreams of a Cinderella run.
Despite a few obstacles, those hopes were alive until the final quarter of the Eagles’ 51-31 loss to West Port in Inverness.
The evening didn’t start as planned with standout point guard Kenyata Waiters leaving the game early. Hustling for a loose ball, Waiters hit her head on the wall, sustaining a laceration. After scoring a team-high 20 and grabbing nine rebounds in the quarterfinal win over Central, she did not return to the game.
Even without its primary ballhandler, Springstead (9-16) held a lead in the second quarter and stuck close throughout. With only six minutes remaining, the lead was seven for the Wolf Pack (18-5).
“If we had our point guard, I think we had a real opportunity to pull off the shocker tonight,” Eagles coach George Bennett said. “It was close in the fourth, and then we turned the ball over six straight times. That was really what killed us.”
The Eagles contained West Port with a 2-3 zone for most of the game, forcing the tournament’s top seed to shoot mostly jumpers. The strategy worked until the lead mounted late, and once Springstead went to a man-to-man defense, the Wolf Pack finished on a big run.
With 14 missed layups, the Eagles blew their fair share of chances to score a knockout blow.
Anna Poholek, as she has most of the season, led the Springstead offense with 14. The junior bounced back after a rare off-game in the quarterfinals, when she was shut out in the first half and scored only five in the game. Poholek averaged 14 points and 10.8 rebounds this season. Freshman center Alyssa Clifton chipped in 11 points.
The nine victories on the campaign are the most for Springstead’s program since 2001, when it had 11.
3A-8: Bishop bounced by second seed
TAMPA — Seffner Christian was looking past Thursday to a playoff game down the road, when its talent and depth wouldn’t be enough to cruise to victory.
For the state-ranked Crusaders, the Class 3A, District 8 tournament is something of a formality.
Tesha Hanson scored 21 and Peyton Walker added 18 to lead Seffner Christian to a methodical 62-9 win over Carrollwood Day School in their semifinal.
In the other half of the bracket, second-seeded Tampa Prep defeated Bishop McLaughlin 45-22.
Staff writer Joel Anderson contributed to this report.