DADE CITY — The last time the Gators made the playoffs, they couldn’t be stopped until the region finals. Now they’re on track to do it again.
Land O’Lakes powered to a 39-34 win over Pasco after trailing in three quarters in Thursday’s Class 4A region quarterfinal. The Gators added 21 points in the fourth quarter to steal the win.
“We had two halves of basketball to play,” Land O’Lakes coach Phyllis Crain told her team at halftime.
After a scoreless second quarter, the Gators were behind 17-9 going into the second half. They tried to catch up in the third but were still six points behind when the clock ran out.
Crain said the Gators changed their defensive strategy going into the second half.
“Brianca (Roberts) is a heck of a player,” Crain said. Roberts, a Pasco point guard, led the night in scoring with 19 points.
Land O’Lakes’ Makala Canada hit a 3 with just over two minutes left in the game, tying the score at 32 and bringing fans on both sides to their feet.
Roberts charged back after Canada’s 3 to draw the Pirates ahead again. Just over a minute remained.
The Gators weren’t finished, though. Taylor McDonald shot from under the basket to tie again.
Land O’Lakes took the lead — and the win — with five free throws. Pamela Andrade sank her first of the game to give the Gators their first lead. Canada and Andrade added four more, and Land O’Lakes earned its spot in the semis.
Canada and McDonald led Land O’Lakes’ attack with 12 points each. Andrade had eight.
The Gators face NCT in the next round. The Sharks defeated a tough Gulf team, 58-55, to advance.
“Hopefully we can come back,” Crain said. “That’s an awesome win for Nature Coast.”