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Armwood uses multiple shutout runs to pull ahead for good

An early deficit against Land O’Lakes doesn’t faze the Hawk girls who prevail 92-71.
It took a little while to get going, but Jalyn Spurlin and Armwood finally pulled away from visiting Land O'Lakes to win a Class 7A region quarterfinal Thursday night, 92-71. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
It took a little while to get going, but Jalyn Spurlin and Armwood finally pulled away from visiting Land O'Lakes to win a Class 7A region quarterfinal Thursday night, 92-71. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Published Feb. 15, 2019

SEFFNER — The first playoff game for Armwood first-year coach Benjamin Bromley couldn’t have started much worse.

The ending was much better.

The Hawks, who haven’t lost since an opening-season defeat against Robinson, overcame a 16-point second-quarter deficit Thursday and registered a 92-71 Class 7A girls basketball region quarterfinal victory over Land O’Lakes as Taviyanna Habib and Jalyn Spurlin combined for 61 points.

Armwood (24-1) will remain home Tuesday for a semifinal matchup with Chamberlain.

Land O’Lakes (17-7), playing in a regional for the first time since 2015, put the Hawks on their heels early. The Gators made seven of their first eight shots, and eventually built a 37-21 lead midway through the second period on a 3-pointer by Trinity Blanc (34 points).

But Armwood’s trademark active defense, transition game and inside play took over. The Hawks finished the first half with a 14-0 run to take the lead for good at 45-41. Land O’Lakes could not get any closer the rest of the way.

“It wasn’t the start to the game that we wanted,” Bromley said. “I just told my girls that we missed a lot of easy shots in the beginning of the game (and) a lot of foul shots.

”I said to stay in our game. . . . Those shots will start falling, our defense will start clicking, and we’ll start doing what we’re supposed to be doing."

Habib had 22 of her 34 points in the first half, and Spurlin led Armwood’s second-half surge with 22 of her 27 points.

A 9-0 streak by Armwood midway through the third quarter expanded the Hawks’ lead to 62-46, and the Gators never got closer than nine after that.

Armwood forced 23 turnovers and its height advantage led to an 85-51 advantage in attempted field goals. The Hawks shot 44 percent.

“We prepared for (Armwood) for three days and the biggest thing that they do really well is speed up other teams,” Land O’Lakes coach Marcus Ludwig said. "I kept telling my girls that if you give them two, three or four chances to score, that makes them very dangerous.

“They were taller and we had to box out. I knew that their athletic ability was going to be a struggle. I’m very proud of my girls for what they’ve been through the past couple years. . . . I love them to death.”

It was Armwood’s first playoff win since a one-point victory in 2016 against Springstead. Arissa Bretton added 13 points for the Hawks and Aniyah Jenkins had 11.

Alyssa Pumo (15 points) and Natalie Rodriguez (11) contributed to the Gators, who lost two players to fouls.

The 92 points represented Armwood’s second-highest offensive output of the season (it scored 106 against King).

“Our No. 1 offense is transition off our defense,” Bromley said. “When our defense started clicking toward the end of the second quarter, that’s what was able to get us going.”

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