BROOKSVILLE — A long-time rivalry highlighted Thursday night’s semifinals in the Hernando Holiday Classic.
Central knocked off Springstead 53-47 to advance to tonight’s championship game, surviving a 3-point barrage from the Eagles along the way.
The Bears (6-8) came into the game focused on Springstead forward Anna Poholek, who was coming off a school-record 38-point performance in her team’s first-round victory over Santa Fe Catholic.
Central matched up with some size and speed on both ends of the floor, which put Poholek in foul trouble and frustrated the standout junior, who was averaging 15 points and 11 boards.
“We needed to make (Poholek) dribble and not allow her to just shoot,” Central coach Penny Gressick said. “Once we did that, we had more success.”
After missing her first three attempts, all from beyond the arc, Poholek finally knocked down some shots, and had 11 points and 11 rebounds at the beginning of the fourth quarter when she was called for her fourth foul in the low post.
Unhappy about the call, she made a comment to the official and was immediately called for the technical that put her out of the game with 7:06 still to play.
Springstead (7-10) attacked the post as well, hoping to get Bears center Lauren Grimsland in foul trouble. The plan succeeded as the senior fouled out midway through the final period, helping Central to a 12-point lead. She finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
“It was very frustrating (sitting on the bench at the end) because I didn’t feel like my last foul was much of a foul at all,” Grimsland said. “There wasn’t much else I could do in that situation.”
A late run led by the Eagles’ Kenyata Waiters (nine points, six rebounds) and Hailey Enjeneski (15 points) cut the advantage, but Springstead got no closer than six. The backcourt duo hit five of the team’s eight shots from long distance.
Earlier in the evening, Northeast defeated Fivay 39-25 to reach the title game.
A turnover-laden effort by the Falcons (8-7) helped the Vikings (11-12) begin the contest on a 10-2 run.
Off the bench, junior Northeast guard Kaycee Folwell nailed four of the team’s six 3-pointers with Aspen Hedges making the other two.
Point guard Meghan Tate was most active defensively for Fivay, recording seven steals and hitting her team’s lone 3.
Star forward Alicia Artley, who came in averaging 18 points and 15 boards, was held to only 10 points and seven rebounds.