In the regional finals against Chipley, Port St. Joe’s girls basketball team fell behind 12-0 in the first quarter before righting the ship and securing their trip to Lakeland, to face the Wildwood Wildcats in the FHSAA 1A Final Four.
The Tiger Sharks, who fell during the regular season to the Wildcats Dec. 28, hoped for a more favorable outcome this time.
But the Tiger Sharks’ fifth consecutive visit to the semi-finals ended in a disappointing 51-39 defeat on Wednesday, evening.
Wildwood, the #1 ranked team in 1A, took advantage of 15 Shark turnovers to take a comfortable 22-4 lead after the first quarter. The Sharks never found an answer to freshman point guard Trinidy Harris, who earned scoring honors with her 21 points.
St. Joe failed to score until the 1:12 mark of the first quarter when senior guard Shadavia Hudgins hit a layup to make the score 19-2. She would finish the quarter having scored all four St. Joe points.
Although the Sharks committed only five turnovers in the second quarter, they could not reduce the already wide deficit, and when the halftime horn sounded, Wildwood held a 32-12 advantage.
Besides the 15 first half turnovers, St. Joe also suffered shooting woes by hitting only 19 percent, on 5 of 26 from the floor, including 2 of 11 from three-point territory.
Behind senior Mimi Larry’s 16 second-half points, the Sharks managed to close the gap to the final 12-point margin, outscoring the Wildcats 14-9 in the third quarter and 13-10 in the final period.
St. Joe, who ended the season with a record of 18-8, finished the contest with 26 turnovers, 10 of which led to 21 Wildwood points, while shooting only 26 percent (14 of 53) overall.
Junior guard Jae Lenox, averaging 16 points a game, managed six points before fouling out with 6:12 remaining in the game.
Hudgins finished with seven points, while fellow senior Amani Jones scored four points and pulled down nine boards.
Junior Mari Johnson scored four points, and sophomore Ty’Shawn Shackleford added two points.
Wildwood, now 19-4, will face the winner of the Madison County-Ponce de Leon game in the finals on Friday, Feb. 25.