TAMPA — In a battle of ranked teams, it was, technically, the underdog that prevailed.
Steinbrenner stayed perfect (12-0, 4-0 Class 7A-District 8) with a 57-48 win at district foe Freedom (8-3, 1-3) on Thursday night.
According to the FABC/Source Hoops state poll, the Warriors are ranked eighth in 7A, while the Patriots are seventh, but Steinbrenner led the entire game, including by as many as 15 points.
“I wanted us to come out and play our best defensive game yet, but we just didn’t do that,” Steinbrenner coach J.R. Allen said. “We had been allowing just about 20 or so points a game, but obviously you’re not going to be able to do that against a team as good as Freedom.
“We got a big win, but we could’ve played better defense.”
Freedom played strong and outscored Steinbrenner in the second and fourth quarters, but the Warriors scored 22 first-quarter points capped off by a half-court shot by Taylor Thigpen at the buzzer.
“That shot was huge in terms that we had stunk up to that point,” Allen said. “I told them they needed to capitalize on that because those don’t come around very often. That shot did carry us into the rest of the game and really got their juice going.”
Steinbrenner, which matched its longest winning streak at 12 games, was led by junior forward Rachel Briere, who had 19 points and was matched by Freedom’s junior guard Taylor Emery.
Nari Gardner added 10 for the Patriots, while Courtney Hall contributed nine for the Warriors.