A valiant fourth quarter Gainesville rally came up two points short on Tuesday.
The No. 3 seed Hurricanes fell 49-47 in the Region 1-6A semifinals to visiting No. 7 seed Land O’ Lakes after trailing by eight points heading into the final quarter.
“I’m sad we couldn’t go all the way, but it’s a big accomplishment to make it this far,” said Gainesville coach Jazlynd Rollins. “I think the girls realize that and I think that’s why it hurts them so much.”
GHS trailed only 14-13 after the opening quarter, but Land O’ Lakes (20-4) outscored the Hurricanes 16-10 in the second quarter to take a 30-23 halftime lead.
The Gators used a small lineup, neutralizing one of Gainesville’s weapons in 6’1 senior center Ta’Niya Walker. Walker, who scored four points in the second quarter after averaging 8.1 points per contest during the season, sat in the second half.
In the closing minutes, the Hurricanes climbed within 45-43 with 59 seconds left and got the ball back on a steal, but a turnover and foul with 50 seconds remaining put the Gators ahead 47-43. Land O’ Lakes hit 8-of-11 free throws in the final quarter to keep GHS at bay.
Senior Leyah Houston led Gainesville (15-8) with 14 points, followed by sophomore Jordan Terry’s 13.
“(Land O’ Lakes) capitalized on our mistakes and we learn from it,” Rollins said. “A loss is a learn, so for those who are coming back next year, we’ve got to prepare. And if we don’t want to feel this way again, we’ve got to remember this feeling.”
Last Thursday, GHS slipped past Niceville, 48-45, in the quarterfinals after beating Chiles (Tallahassee) on Feb. 3 for the District 2-6A championship, 52-37.
“I had a lot of fun,” said Rollins, coaching GHS in her first year. “I’m glad I had the one year I’ve had with them and wish I would have had them longer; wish I would have met them before. We could have accomplished great things like we did this year”
The Hurricanes advanced one round further than they did last year, where they fell to St. Augustine at home in the regional quarterfinal round.
GIRLS (Scores) – Tuesday, Feb. 14
Class 6A-Region 1
No. 7 Land O’ Lakes 49, No. 3 Gainesville 47
Class 3A-Region 1
No. 2 P.K. Yonge 57, No. 3 Master’s Academy (Oviedo) 45 – Blue Wave (16-3) advance to Class 3A-Region 1 Final
Class 1A-Region 3
No. 1 Hawthorne 80, No. 2 Newberry 55 – Hornets (13-5) advance to the Class 1A state semifinals
Class 1A-Region 4
No. 1 Wildwood 61, No. 2 Trenton 36