Late Run Lifts Sharks Past Haines City in 7A Championship Game
Sun. February 26, 2012 at 3:00 a.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
Haines City sisters Jasmyn Brown, left, and Briona Brown, right, sit dejectedly on the bench after Saturday's 50-46 loss in the Class 7A girls basketball state title game. (Photo by Rick Runion | The Ledger)
By SOLANGE REYNER
LAKELAND | All season long, Sebastian River's Brittany Jackson was downright adamant in proclaiming that her team would be high school state champions in girls basketball.
It was a bold statement from a player whose team had never even sniffed the final four before.
But there was no denying Jackson on Saturday afternoon. Not with that look of determination in her eyes. Not on this stage.
And even though Haines City played her tough defensively, Jackson hit big shot after big shot to fuel her team to victory in the Class 7A title game. Jackson had 32 points, 14 in the fourth quarter, along with 18 rebounds to lead her team over Haines City 50-46 at The Lakeland Center.
The Hornets, also trying to win their first title, were up for most of the game. But they had trouble making things work in the fourth when they were outscored 17-10.
"Our defense was a little slow," Haines City coach LaDreda Akins said. "Our specialty is defense and I think our defense let down a little bit against this team."
Haines City looked flustered late, possibly a product of playing a very tough, chippy game on Friday night against No. 1 Buchholz, which it beat to advance to the championship.
"I can say that fatigue hit us a lot," said Haines City's Briona Brown, who had 17 points and nine rebounds. "They (Sebastian River) were getting the ball and pushing it and we were tired to get back on defense. We could have gotten a few breaks here and there but that's just the way the game fell."
Akins switched it up on defense all game and a full-court press seemed to be working in the first half. The Hornets (30-3) were up 22-13 at that point with two baskets off forced turnovers in that press during a 10-1 run. But Haines City went back to a zone quickly because players were in foul trouble. The Hornets still often man-marked Sebastian's K.P. Pound, though, typically the Sharks' leading scorer. Pound averages 19-plus points per game. On Saturday, she had seven points on 2 of 16 shooting with all of her baskets coming in the second half.
But where Pound slacked, Jackson picked things up for the Sharks. And the role for Jackson, a senior who will play for Georgia Tech next season, was a little new. The combo guard is usually a distributor who averages about 13.9 points per game with six assists. She had 13 points alone in the first half against Haines City.
"She did what she had to do. Hands in her face she hit her shots," Brown said.
That's how she started the fourth. Jackson hit a deep 3-pointer to tie it 36-all and then had a jumper to make it 41-38.
Brekia Henderson had a layup and Jasmine Reddick made a basket in the paint to make it 42-41 but that was the last time Haines City hit a shot from the field. The Hornets had their last lead at 46-45 when Henderson hit two free throws with 2 minutes on the clock. Jackson sealed the win for Sebastian by hitting five of her own free throws down the stretch.
"I didn't think she (Jackson) would have as a big a game," said Haines City's LaDerricka Spillman, who had 12 points. "We thought we had this one."
SEBASTIAN RIVER (50) -- Kiandre'a Pound 2-16 3-5 10,, Micaela Martinelli 0-1 0-0 0,, Merkeyia Jones 2-3 0-0 5, Miah Shephard 2-3 0-0 5, Brittany Jackson 7-19 16-18 32, Clark Nicole 0-0 0-0 0, Katie Taylor 0-3 1-2 1, Tayler Smithy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-45 20-25 50.
HAINES CITY (46) -- Brekia Henderson 2-12 7-7 11, Jasmine Reddick 2-5 0-2 4, Jone' Akins 1-3 0-0 2, Briona Brown 6-13 4-4 17, LaDerricka Spillman 5-12 2-4 12, Raven Tramel 0-0 0-0 0. Total s16-45 13-17 46,
Sebastian River 10 9 14 17 -- 50
Haines City 10 14 12 10 -- 46
3-point FGs: Sebastian River 4-17 (Jackson 2, Jones 1, Shephard 1); Haines Cithy 1-8 (Brown 1). Rebounds: Sebastian River 30 (Pound 10). Haines City 35 (Brown 9). Assists: Sebastian River 9 (Pound, Jones 3); Haines City 5 (Henderson 3). Records: Sebastian River 25-3, Haines City 28-3.