LUTZ — Steinbrenner claimed its second district title in three seasons, besting Wiregrass Ranch 44-42 in the Class 7A-District 8 final.
The Warriors (24-3) defense caused havoc for the Bulls (26-3), who committed 21 turnovers.
“We’ve had to learn to be a great defensive team,” said Steinbrenner coach JR Allen. “We sit down and we defend in the half court. That’s our strong point, and we’re going to ride it as far as it can take us.”
The Warriors offense was carried by senior guard Taylor Thigpen, who racked up 21 points.
“We started attacking the basket as much as possible to get them in foul trouble and get easy layups instead of taking jumpers,” Thigpen said.
Steinbrenner led by as many as 11 points, but Wiregrass Ranch fought back in the final minutes. Olivia Unger and Rachel Briere had 10 and six points for the Warriors.
Wiregrass Ranch was led offensively by Logan Seoane’s 16 points. Trakyra Kidd had 11 and Stephanie Brower scored six.
3A-7: Seffner blows out Carrollwood Day
SPRING HILL — For the second consecutive night, Seffner Christian got off to a fast start and built up more than a 50-point halftime lead to capture its fourth consecutive district title, defeating Carrollwood Day 74-16.
The Crusaders’ relentless defensive pressure forced seven turnovers in the first 21⁄2 minutes, allowing them to take an early 16-0 lead and build it to 34-2 after one quarter. The onslaught continued in the second period, with the scoreboard reading 55-4 at halftime. Overall, the Crusaders (22-5) had 28 steals, while double-teaming and quickness forced the Patriots into making bad passes and taking errant shots.
Unlike Friday night, when Sabrina Whiting and Peyton Walker accounted for two-thirds of the team’s points, the Crusaders had offensive production from several players. Whiting, Walker and Sara Denny led all scorers with 17 points. Nicci Reed contributed 10 points, Ally Parimore chipped in with eight, and Kelly Cunningham had a pair of baskets.
“All season long, we’ve had some games where Sabrina and Peyton scored most of the points and then other games, like tonight, where others stepped up big,” said coach Greg Fawbush after the game.
8A-7: Riverview topples Plant
VALRICO — Entering the new year, Riverview was sitting atop the district.
Then, in one week, it all broke down.
The Sharks lost three consecutive district games and were on a four-game losing streak. Instead of being the team with the target on their backs, they were trying to play catch-up with the district tournament a week away. There was even a team meeting.
“That adversity helped us straighten things out,” said Riverview coach Gerald Batista.
And Friday night, the recharged third-seeded Sharks (15-7) handled all obstacles in their way en route to a 50-37 win over Plant (17-12) to claim the district championship.
Despite being smothered by a non-stop double team, Riverview’s 6-foot-1 center, Kierra Haywood, finished with a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Riverview junior guard Asia Royster, the Sharks’ second leading scorer behind Haywood, sat most of the first half with three fouls, but finished with 12 points and six assists.
Sophomore Deja Turner led Plant with 12 points and seven steals.
6A-10: Mitchell loses to Dixie Hollins
ST. PETERSBURG ‑ Dixie Hollins used the outside shooting of Megan Thomas and a stifling defense to upend the Mitchell Mustangs, 58-36, and win its first district title.
The Rebels came out firing from the tip-off. An 11-2 run in the second quarter blew open a close game and gave Dixie Hollins a 28-16 lead. The third quarter was when Thomas took over. The senior shooting guard scored eight points in a row for the Rebels, including two 3-pointers, and the Rebels’ lead widened to 20 points. Thomas finished with 39 points, including six 3-pointers on the night.
Mitchell, still playing without injured Hannah Kriston and Regan Petika, was led by Ashley Lewis and Kim Knudsen, who scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Even though the Rebels had beaten the Mustangs twice this season, Dixie Hollins coach Kelley Clark knew her squad had to be sharp to win the district.
“We knew we had to be on top of our game.” Clark said. “We weren’t overconfident, and we couldn’t assume anything. We take it one game at a time. This game is a culmination of everything we’ve worked on. I’ve been here four years, and from day one, this has been the goal.”
6A-9: Armwood downs Hillsborough
SEFFNER — Kiana King returned to the Armwood lineup Friday for the first time since injuring her right shoulder scrimmaging with boys two weeks ago. The Hawks could have survived another game without their leading scorer, but she was on a mission.
“I’m back, like I never left,” said King, whose 15 points led a 53-39 victory against Hillsborough in the district championship game. Shawntelle Newsome chipped in 11 for Armwood (24-4) en route to its first district title since 2006.
Khoi Wilson scored 20 points to pace Hillsborough (17-11), also bound for the region tournament next week.
5A-8: Gulf rolls past Land O’ Lakes
NEW PORT RICHEY — Gulf shooting guard Kayla Kivinski looked like she was going to have an off night, as she started 1-of-8 from the field.
By the end, Kivinski had shrugged off the rough shooting start to score a game-high 23 points en route to a 57-38 victory against Land O’ Lakes as the Bucs clinched home-court advantage to start the postseason.
Land O’ Lakes (19-4) took the initiative and got its early scoring from power forward Jhade Hayes, who scored the first couple of baskets. Gulf (21-3) switched out of its zone defense and pressed exclusively in the second quarter, forcing Land O’ Lakes to turn the basketball over 15 times in the first half.
5A-7: Harmon leads Pasco to victory
DADE CITY — Tranisha Harmon scored 19 points and hit the game-winner with 15 seconds left as Pasco (19-9) edged Nature Coast Tech, 67-65, in the district final.
“We’ve been waiting for that all season,“ Pirates coach Troy Moore said of Harmon’s performance, “We always knew Tranisha had it in her, that she could have a game like tonight. I’m proud of her.”
Harmon scored eight points as part of an early 19-4 run, but Pasco trailed by three at the half after Nature Coast Tech dominated the second quarter.
Nature Coast Tech clawed back to tie the score at 65, but a layup by Harmon would give the Pirates their winning margin. Harmon also finished with 15 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks.
4A-6: Ridgewood comes up short, 56-50
THE VILLAGES — Ridgewood was able to end the regular season on a seven-game winning streak and was on fire heading into the district championship.
The Rams came up short, but they will qualify for the postseason after Ridgewood fell 56-50 in the title game against Ocala Trinity Catholic.
Samantha Williams and Hannah Shafer paced the Rams with 18 and 11 points.