3A Girls State: University overpowers CSN in semifinals
Jacksonville University Christian took advantage of its size advantage and foul trouble by Community School of Naples to come from behind in the fourth quarter Tuesday night.
Led by the inside duo Ja’Tavia Tapley and Tarje Norman, the Christians outscored Community School 17-8 to pull out a 47-42 win in the Class 3A semifinals of the FHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships at The Lakeland Center.
The Christians move on to the championship game on Thursday at 5:05 p.m.
Tapley, who has committed to Southern Cal, led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Norman added 10 points and seven rebounds.
For the game, the Christians (28-3) outscored Community School 26-12 in the paint and had a 17-3 edge on second-chance points.
Part of that was due to Community School’s 6-foot Stephanie Paul, who is headed to Georgia, being in foul trouble much of the night. She sat out the early part of the fourth quarter when University Christian put together its run to take a 38-37 lead after trailing by as many as 11 points earlier in the game.
“That was a big advantage,” Tapley said. “It was a huge matchup. The more we passed it inside, that made it easier for us to score.”
That was the focus, University Christian coach Keith Stroud said.
“All year long, these two young ladies (Tapley and Norman), we’ve put it on their backs, and that’s what we decided to do that second half,” Stroud said. “When their big kid (Paul) gets in foul trouble, we felt like if we’re going to make our run, then we’re going to pound it in and put on their two backs. And that’s what the kids did.”
Even at that, Community School had its chances down the stretch and the game wasn’t decided until the closing seconds.
“We got into a foul situation and had to make some adjustments and that allowed them to get back into it,” Community coach Mitch Woods said. “But we still had our chances. I thought we were in good shape but we missed some plays down the stretch.”
With University holding a one-point lead, 40-39, Tapley scored inside and Nigeria Harkless added a three-point play after a Community School missed shot to give the Christians a 45-39 lead with 1:05 to play.
Jordan Cloutier, who led Community (26-3) with 20 points, answered with a 3-pointer, but the Seahawks couldn’t convert after that.