TAMPA — Two of the favored teams in the Jaguar Holiday Girls Basketball Tournament — Wiregrass Ranch and Clearwater — had to fight like crazy in Friday’s semifinals.
Wiregrass Ranch survived with a 50-43 comeback victory against Plant but Clearwater did not, losing its first game of the season, 52-49 to Academy of the Holy Names.
For AHN (11-5) it was a pretty big deal because it not only handed Clearwater (17-1) its first loss, but the Jaguars reached the final of their own tournament in dramatic fashion.
AHN did it by starting hot, nailing six 3-pointers in the first quarter and jumping to a 25-11 lead early in the second quarter. After that, the Tornadoes chipped away, cutting the gap to 32-23 at the half and 52-49 with 7.4 seconds remaining.
Clearwater’s Alexandria Hannah had a solid shot at a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie it but the ball rimmed in and out.
“I told the girls at halftime that Clearwater would make a run at us,” AHN coach Christopher Severini said. “I knew (Clearwater) would give us a game right to the end.”
Down the stretch, AHN held its lead when Siobhan Lynch, Cristina Snyder and Ashley McWilliams hit key foul shots. Lynch and Snyder also ended up leading the team in scoring with 17 and 16 points, respectively, with four 3-pointers apiece.
In the Wiregrass victory, the Bulls (18-1) got it going in the second half after trailing by nine in the first half.
Part of the turnaround came largely on the shooting of Logan Seonae, who was moved out a bit from the basket to make use of her height advantage and soft shooting touch. The move worked as Seonae scored 12 of her game-high 17 points after intermission.
“We know (Seonae) can shoot and we thought it would be good to get her out on the wing,” Wiregrass coach John Grant said. “It’s something we’ve done before.”
Wiregrass junior forward Amanda Melosky also hit key shots in the comeback and finished with 15 points.
Bloomingdale, Northeast win
ST. PETERSBURG — Depth is an asset Bloomingdale’s has learned to use as its advantage this season.
And on Friday, 10 players scored in a balanced performance by the Bulls, who defeated East Bay, 53-28, to reach today’s 1 p.m. final of the Northeast Winter Tournament.
The Bulls (8-7) will play host Northeast, which defeated Wharton, 52-33, in the other semifinal.
Senior Katie Montero was the only Bulls player to reach double figures, finishing with a team-high 11 points along with five steals and three assists.
“On any given night, we can have a different leading scorer,” Bloomingdale coach Joel Bower said.
So far this season, the Bulls are without a player averaging double-digit points.
“We go nine to 10 players deep every game,” Bower said.
Deja Campbell led East Bay with 11 points.
Against Wharton, Northeast (15-6) forced more than 30 turnovers, including 22 steals. Junior Emina Podzic finished with a double-double for the Vikings, collecting 10 steals with 11 points.
Northeast junior guard Madison Winningham led all scorers with 16 points. Junior Rachel Cox led Wharton with 10 points.