TAMPA — Plant’s Christina Tamargo nailed her first shot, a 3-pointer from the right side of the floor.
A little less than a minute later, Tamargo let fly from the top of the key. Three more points.
Later in the first quarter, the 5-foot-8 senior drained another basket over the outstretched arm of a defender.
Just like that, Tamargo had set the tone early in the Panthers’ Class 8A, District 7 semifinal against Alonso. There would be no repeat of her listless performance from only 12 days ago.
Tamargo finished with 11 points, helping Plant open an early lead in a 52-25 rout of the hobbled Ravens on Wednesday.
“Tonight we showed up as the Plant that we were earlier in the season,” said Tamargo, who was held scoreless in the Panthers’ 51-47 loss to Alonso on Jan. 18.
“My last Alonso game, I was not so hot.”
Krista Brady scored 13, Ebony Thomas had 11 and Reggine Brown added nine for the Panthers (18-7), who advanced to the district final against top-seeded Newsome on Friday.
Guard Lauren Boerger notched her first career triple double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals as the top-seeded Wolves cruised into the district final with a 60-19 victory over Wharton. Boerger also had five assists and KK Smith added 12 points and eight rebounds in the win.
After losing to Newsome in the semifinals last year and missing the playoffs, Plant eventually overwhelmed Alonso (18-9) with its depth, offensive balance and defensive pressure.
The Ravens made a game of it early despite the limitations of leading scorer Quatasia Fantroy, who came into the game averaging nearly 22 points but was slowed by a knee injury.
Alonso’s Savannah Torres hit a couple of free throws to cut Plant’s lead to 17-16 with 2:44 left in the second quarter.
But Plant started pressuring Alonso in the backcourt and trapping at midcourt, igniting a 15-0 run to close out the first half. During one stretch of the game-turning finish, the Panthers forced five straight turnovers.
“It made us look like we knew what we wanted to do,” Plant coach Carrie Mahon said. “What a great two-minute spot to do that.”
Alonso went more than 12 minutes without scoring a basket, notching only two points — on free throws — during the third quarter. Angel Golden ended the Ravens’ drought early in the fourth quarter, scoring a basket that closed Plant’s lead to 45-20.
Golden finished with a team-high 12 points, closing out the best season in program history for the Ravens. Fantroy, who sat out much of the second half, finished with a season-low three points.
“I’m proud of these girls,” said Bamar Lewis, Alonso’s first-year coach. “We’re just not as healthy as we were a couple weeks ago.”
7A-9: Patriots, Warriors ease into title game
TAMPA — For the second straight season the Class 7A, District 9 title will come down to Freedom and Steinbrenner after the tournament front-runners scored lopsided victories in Wednesday’s semifinals at Freedom.
Defending champion Steinbrenner opened with a 50-35 win over Wiregrass Ranch and top-seeded Freedom routed Gaither 88-16 with a running clock utilized for the entire second half.
“I put it to the kids, ‘You guys are defending champions. You’ve got to go out and act like it,’ ” Warriors coach J.R. Allen said of a pregame address to his players.
“The good thing about Friday night is we both go on,” added Patriots coach Laurie Pacholke.
Steinbrenner (20-5) opened with 14-0 unanswered points, but Wiregrass Ranch pulled within seven with a 10-2 run midway through the second quarter. The Bulls (16-12) never got closer in losing to the Warriors for the third time this season.
Steinbrenner buried eight 3-pointers to keep Wiregrass Ranch at bay. Olivia Unger, who scored a game-high 15, had three treys and Bailey Hooker scored 14 with four 3-point shots.
Wiregrass Ranch got 11 points from Amanda Melosky and nine from Logan Seoane.
The romp in the second game was even greater with the Patriots (21-3) taking a 36-2 halftime lead and continuing their domination as the clock continually ran in the second half.
“Our goal is to hopefully be prepared for the next six games we have,” Pacholke said, alluding to state title aspirations. “It’s playoff time. We’re going to come up against some good competition and I want them to be ready.”
Faith Woodard and Taylor Emery each scored 26 to lead the Patriots.
6A-11: Chargers rally late to topple Hawks
TAMPA — Early in Strawberry Crest’s district semifinal against Armwood, it seemed the Chargers would bow out of the single-elimination tournament without much of a fight.
The second-seeded Chargers scored only four points in the first quarter and 12 before halftime. Armwood, the tourney’s third seed, held a 16-point lead midway through the second quarter. The Hawks were up 10 at the break.
But then the Chargers settled down. They started running their offense. They tightened defensively. And behind a 15-3 run late in the third quarter and into the fourth, the Chargers rallied to defeat Armwood 45-35.
“Most teams would have shut down,” the Chargers’ Terra Brooks said. “We were able to pick it up. Once we got momentum, we kept going from there.”
Down by 12 with five minutes left in the third quarter, Strawberry Crest (19-6) made its move. The Chargers scored the final eight points of the quarter to knock the deficit to four. Brooks, who had 14 points to lead the Chargers, sank two free throws to tie the game with just less than six minutes left and her basket on the next possession gave Strawberry Crest its first lead.
Armwood tied the game twice over the closing minutes, but Brooks hit another basket to put the Chargers up by three with 1:46 left, and Aliyah Gregory’s midcourt steal and layup seconds later sealed the win. Gregory hit 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch.
“We got focused and finally played our game,” Brooks said.
Armwood (16-10) coasted early behind the shooting of Kiana King, who led all scorers with 17, including nine before halftime. Down 20-4, Strawberry Crest grabbed some much-needed momentum with an 8-2 run to close out the first half.
Top-seeded Sickles advanced behind a stifling defense that forced 33 Jefferson turnovers in a 58-38 victory.
The Gryphons (22-4) jumped out to a 19-2 lead in the first quarter and were up 12 at halftime.
“We wanted to come out and put pressure on them and really make it hard,” Sickles coach Mark Key said. “The first three minutes, I think (Jefferson) only got one or two shots.”
Jefferson (6-14) trailed by just 10 early in the third before a 12-0 Sickles run erased any doubt. Sickles received balanced scoring from Ciera Wheatley (11 points), Sarah Hartman (11), Cassidy O’Brien (8), Jana Henson (8) and Kassidy Girdler (8). Jazmine Meredith had 11 points to pace Jefferson.
Riverview 60, Plant City 25: At Tampa Bay Tech, Asia Royster scored 19 and Kierra Haywood had 15, going 10-of-12 from the free-throw line, to lead the Sharks back to the district final.
Tampa Bay Tech 68, Hillsborough 42: Titans sophomore Kirtisha Nelson tied a school record with nine 3-pointers and scored 29 in Tampa Bay Tech's semifinal victory over the Terriers.
Robinson 57, Lennard 13: At Robinson, freshman Autumn Carson led the Knights with 19 points in their lopsided semifinal victory. Robinson is undefeated in nine games against district opponents.
Holy Names 41, Berkeley Prep 23: At Holy Names, the Jaguars mostly cruised into the district final to set up a third game against reigning champion Tampa Catholic, which has won five consecutive district titles. Holy Names won both regular-season games this year, including Jan. 11 without injured scoring leader Ashley McWilliams.
Tampa Catholic 57, Sarasota Booker 43: At Holy Names, Brittany Betts and Sofia Reina each scored 15 to send the Crusaders back into the district final. Danielle Battle added 13 points and 10 rebounds for Tampa Catholic. "We finally put together a whole game," first-year coach Matthew Rocha said. "Now we have to prove we can beat" Holy Names. "I really think it's going to be a well-played game."
By the numbers
53 Combined points scored by Freedom sophomore Taylor Emery (26) and senior Faith Woodard (27) in the Patriots' 88-16 romp of Gaither in the Class 7A, District 9 tournament
980 Career points for Alonso forward Quatasia Fantroy, whose career ended in the Ravens' semifinal loss to Plant
"I think it'll be the best game Hillsborough County will see all year long," Steinbrenner coach J.R. Allen, selling Friday night's Class 7A, District 9 title game against Freedom
Staff writer Joey Knight and correspondents Steve Lee and Bryan Burns contributed to this report.