SEFFNER – Armwood High’s girls basketball has embraced the next player up philosophy late in the season, as a steady rotation of players have led the team. The Hawks showed this off in a three-game stretch without leading scorer Kiana King before the senior guard returned in the district final to lead her team to a title.
Today, in Armwood’s Class 6A-Region 3 quarterfinal against Mitchell, it was Alyssa Nieves’ turn as the freshman guard busted out of a slump with 20 points, including four 3-pointers to lead the Hawks to a 56-30 win.
“I’ve had a shooting slump the past two weeks, but I’ve spent a lot of extra time getting a lot of shots up,” Nieves said. “I guess tonight was that night for me.”
Nieves three-point shooting gave the Hawks all the team needed by the end of the third, but the freshman wasn’t finished scoring a trio of shots in back-to-back-to-back plays in the span of a minute.
“Every night we have a different leading scorer. … Alyssa hasn’t led our team in scoring in a solid month,” Hawks coach Patrick Kelly said. “We tell them, ‘We need someone every night’ and it’s the next man up. If someone is having an off night, OK, then tonight we need that next person to step up.”
Armwood (25-4) broke out quickly as Keaundra Ivory and Nieves each hit a three in the first quarter and the Hawks never looked back. King finished with 14 points, while Ivory added 12 and Cyann Fox sealed the win with solid defense. Mitchell (14-12) got 10 points from Ashley Lewis and Kelly liver was 6-for-6 from the line in the loss.
6A-3: Dixie Hollins edges Hillsborough
ST. PETERSBURG – Meagan Thomas scored 38 points to lead Dixie Hollins to a Class 6A-District 3 region quarterfinal victory against Hillsborough.
Thomas came into the game averaging 25.9 points per game for Dixie Hollins (19-5).
Hillsborough (17-12) got 15 points from Khoi Wilson and 13 from Aejona Chambers.
8A-2: Strong start Paces Palm Harbor past Plant
PALM HARBOR – Visiting Plant High knew what to expect at Palm Harbor University, it just wasn’t able to handle it.
Forward Megan Ingram (game-high 16 points) and the host Hurricanes took a double-digit lead in the first quarter and never looked back during their dominant 46-35 Class 8A-Region 2 quarterfinal win.
“We knew most everything that they did to us,” said Plant coach Carrie Mahon. “We knew they could shoot the 3-pointer really well, (Ingram’s) got nice feet and defensively they just did a really good job.”
Had Ingram not been pulled for most of the second half, she may have hit a triple-double. The junior finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. She credited PHU’s work on the glass and all-around team defense with fueling the victory.
“Our main goal overall was defense,” she said. “Defense wins games and defense creates offense.”
That constant pressure led to Plant not recording a double-digit scoring quarter until the fourth, with the game well out of reach. Panthers freshman Madelyn Carey scored all of her team-high 10 points in the final period.
– Eric Horchy, Suncoast News
8A-2: St. Pete pulls away from Riverview
RIVERVIEW – The crowd was far bigger than normal, the mascots were out and Riverview may have felt more pressure than usual in the Class 8A-Region 2 quarterfinal against visiting St. Petersburg.
“This game had a different atmosphere compared to the ones we had during the regular season,” Riverview’s Gerard Batista said. “I don’t know if we ever really settled down.”
Amid a rash of uncharacteristic turnovers, Riverview dropped behind early, fought back to cut the deficit to five points at the half, and then watched St. Petersburg steadily pull away in the second half to seal up a 55-39 victory.
“I think our defense really made the difference,” St. Petersburg coach Tamika Coley said. “I thought our (full court) pressure was effective.”
St. Petersburg (20-6) also pulled off the victory despite playing without one of its starters, Jordan Berenbaum, who was diagnosed with a concussion after a collision last week in the Green Devils’ district final.
Offensively, St. Petersburg was led by Angel Brown, who finished with 12 points. Riverview, which ended its season 15-8, was led by Kierra Haywood, who finished her final game with 17 points.
– Scott Purks
4A-3: Davis leads Tampa Catholic
TAMPA – After a sloppy win in the Class 4A-Region 3 quarterfinals, Tampa Catholic coach Matthew Rocha put everything into perspective.
“It’s always better to win ugly than to lose pretty,’’ Rocha said. “We had to gut it out, but we’ll take it.’’
The Crusaders won, 50-34, but it was a battle of turnovers. The Crusaders have no seniors and just three juniors on the roster, but they were able to take a 15-2 lead late in the first quarter and were never in danger.
Alise Davis led Tampa Catholic with 15 points, including 11 in the second half, and Infinity Lyle and Mia Blocker combined for another 22.
“We are blessed to have such a young group,’’ Rocha said. “Anyone on this team can score on any given night.’’
The Crusaders had a lot of help from Lake Placid. The Dragons missed their first 11 free throws and ended up going 6-of-24 from the line. It wasn’t pretty, but Tampa Catholic took an 11-0 lead before Lake Placid scored. Blocker had eight points in the first quarter alone.
Lake Placid wouldn’t go away. The Dragons cut the deficit to 12 at the end of the third quarter, but that’s when Davis, a freshman, took charge. She controlled the offensive and defensive boards and the Crusaders pulled away.
– Jeff Berlinicke
4A-3: Holy Names gets past Lakeland McKeel
LAKELAND -- The Academy of the Holy Names used a strong fourth quarter to get past Lakeland McKeel, 59-51, in the Class 4A-Region 3 quarterfinals.
The Jaguars and McKeel were tied a 47-47 entering the fourth quarter after McKeel outscored Holy Names 9-3 in the third.
Senior Ashley McWilliams had a triple double –18 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists –for the Academy of the Holy Names. Domenica Howard added 17 and Cristina Howard had 12.
The Jaguars improved to 20-8, while McKeel fell to 19-7.
2A-2: Academy at the Lakes rolls
LAND O’ LAKES — Coach Karim Nohra laid down the law and the players took it to heart.
Academy at the Lakes, last season’s Class 2A state runner-up, dismantled its first round regional opponent, Hernando Christian Academy, 72-18, in a region quarterfinal game that took about an hour and had running clock the entire second half.
: “I told them they were going to play it the way we coached it, the way it was taught to them, or I was going to walk out on them,” Nohra said. “It’s either my way or they can coach the team themselves.”
The Wildcats (19-5) did everything the way Nohra wanted — played hard despite the opponent, kept up the pressure, worked fast points — and were led by Imani Thomas, who had 22 points and didn’t play the second half. Audra Leipold had 18 and Taylor Polasky added 17.
“We have to stay sharp and focuses because the next opponent will be more talented and deeper and we expect to have a stronger opponent,” Nohra said. “Teams will get better as we go along, we just have to stay focused.”
Milly Jackson led HCA (10-16) with six points, while Mary Jackson had five.
Academy took a quick hit just three minutes into the game, when Lauren Wells dislocated her right ring finger and left to get medical attention at a nearby hospital.
– Mike Camunas
2A-2: Balanced scoring leads Keswick Christian past Cambridge Christian
SEMINOLE – Keswick Christian used a balance scoring attack to beat Cambridge Christian, 50-22, in the Class 2A-Region 2 quarterfinals.
Sophomore Ashley Bohl led the way for the Crusaders, who had nine players with a field goal. Bohl was the only Crusader in double figures with 10 points, while Madison Span notched six points and seven rebounds. Bekah Baxter had two threes in the first half to help her squad build a 30-5 halftime lead.
Also standing out was Keswick’s defense , which forced 22 turnovers on the night. Cambridge didn’t make a field goal until the 6:20 mark of the second quarter.
Keswick Christian has outscored its last two opponents 95-33. It beat Hernando Christian 45-11 in last week’s district final.
– Phil Neary