Lions’ defense forces
game-high 44 turnovers
to advance to semifinals
By TONY CASTRO
BROOKSVILLE – Due to geographical concerns – long distances between Ocala and Clearwater – member schools of the Class 2A, District 4 believed it was prudent to reduce its original nine-team field to eight and two sub-districts for the first leg of the state series.
After Monday night’s quarterfinals, only four teams remain standing.
At Lakeside Christian, defending district champion Tampa-Bayshore (22-1) buried Tampa Bay Christian, 76-11.
In the nightcap in Pinellas County, Zephyrhills Christian Academy upset Lakeside Christian, 32-29.
Meanwhile in Brooksville on the northern side of the sub-district bracket, Ocala-St. John Lutheran completed a three-game sweep of Lecanto-Seven Rivers Christian, 64-33.
In the nightcap in Hernando County, host Hernando Christian Academy (20-2) toppled Ocala-Meadowbrook for the third time this season, 55-15.
The remaining four teams will converge at HCA for the remaining three games.
In Tuesday’s semifinals, St. John Lutheran (14-7) tangles with Bayshore Christian at 5 p.m.
In the nightcap, Zephyrhills Christian Academy (7-7) will face host HCA at 7 p.m.
The two winners will clash at 7 p.m. Friday for the 2A-4 title.
Lions force 44 turnovers
HCA’s swarming press defense forced the Mustangs (7-11) into a game-high 44 turnovers.
The Lions (20-2) overcame 23 turnovers.
HCA sophomore Esther Jackson, who entered averaging 12.6 points per game, buried a game-high 29 points.
Jackson converted five layups and three three-pointers for 19 first-quarter points as hosts raced to a 26-7 cushion after eight minutes.
HCA freshman Emma Dedmon, who had converted just 2-of-11 foul shots entering the game, canned 5-of-6 and hit a layup for seven key points coming off the bench.
Lion senior Amelia “Milly” Jackson added 10 points for the victors.
Milly’s younger sister, Lydia, added one point as the Jackson trio finished the night with 40 combined points.
Besides its turnover woes, Meadowbrook could never get into any rhythm misfiring on 30-of-35 field goal attempts against the much shorter Lions.
“We had to give as much as we had,” revealed Esther Jackson, 15. “The whole team gave a lot of effort tonight.
“To reach the finals, we’re gonna have to play as a team and leave everything on the floor. We can’t go easy.”
“Tonight was the most I’ve played in awhile,” said Dedmon, 15. “It was a good experience. Give Meadowbrook credit. Those girls never gave up. They showed a lot of good sportsmanship.”
Tenth-year HCA mentor Mike Drummond wasn’t completely satisfied.
“We’re coming off such an emotional win on Friday (besting Hernando High, spoiling its Senior Night, 52-46). I hate playing these type of games on Monday with no practice.
“… I thought we played down to their level for a while. I get a little frustrated because we have such high expectations. We know if we want to meet Bayshore again, we’ve gotta play a whole lot better than we did tonight.”
Long night for Warriors
Seven Rivers, which has been decimated by injuries this winter, opened the game with its lone lead, 2-0.
The Saints followed with a 7-0 run over the next four minutes and never looked back.
Sophomore Makaya Smith pumped in a game-high 20 points for the Saints while freshman Katie Tagliaferro poured in 18 points.
After committing seven turnovers in the first period, the Warriors added nine turnovers in the second quarter and eight more in the third as St. John Lutheran expanded its 33-13 halftime cushion to 51-22.
Sophomore Jordyn Manno tossed in 12 points for the victors while Hannah Garner and June Jeffes divided 16 points for Seven Rivers (11-9).
“I thought we pushed ourselves a lot tonight,” admitted Tagliaferro, 15. “We had a lot of layups and took advantage of their turnovers.”
Describing Seven Rivers, “They’re very aggressive and played with lots of heart.”
“I thought I had a good game,“ added the 15-year-old Smith. “I hit a lot of my shots.
“For us to win tomorrow, we’re gonna have to play together and play as one. If we do that everything will fall into place.”
Fourth-year St. John Lutheran skipper Haleigh Spaulding admitted, “This was good game to us prepare for tomorrow. Our defense was good. We forced a lot of turnovers. To win tomorrow, we have to play a flawless game. Everyone has to be on point.”
Class 2A, District 4 Girls Basketball
@ Clearwater-Lakeside Christian
Tampa-Bayshore 76, Tampa Bay Christian 11
Zephyrhills Christian Academy 32, Lakeside Christian 29
@ Brooksville-Hernando Christian Academy
Ocala-St. John Lutheran 64, Lecanto-Seven Rivers Christian 33
Hernando Christian Academy 55, Ocala-Meadowbrook 15
@ Brooksville-Hernando Christian Academy
St. John Lutheran vs. Bayshore Christian, 5 p.m.
Zephyrhills Christian Academy vs. Hernando Christian Academy, 7 p.m.
MEADOWBROOK (15) – Emerson 0 1-2 1, Ryan 3 1-2 7, Thompson 2 0-0 4, Wilson 0, Galarza 0, Murillo 1 0-0 2, Staub 0 1-2 1. Totals: 16 3-6 15.
HERNANDO CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (55) – M. Jackson 4 2-4 10, Norton 1 0-0 2, Jones 0 1-6 1, E. Jackson 12 2-5 29, Coffman 0, Ekiss 0, Klukowski 0 1-2 1, L. Jackson 0 1-2 1, Turner 2 0-0 4, Dedmon 1 5-6 7, Totals: 20 12-26 55.
3-point goals – HCA (3): E. Jackson (3).
Total fouls: MEA: 113. HCA: 10.
Fouled out – MEA: Ryan.
Technical fouls – none.
Records: Meadowbrook (0-1 tourney, 7-11 overall), Hernando Christian Academy (1-0 tourney, 20-2 overall)..