ST. PETERSBURG — Palm Harbor University passed a big test with flying colors Friday night, traveling to St. Petersburg High and handily defeating the Green Devils 62-49.
“We really wanted to show the county who’s boss,” said PHU junior forward Megan Ingram. “It’s a great confidence boost for us because we’re really trying to make a run in states this year.”
The Hurricanes improved to 11-0 while surviving the battle of unbeatens, dropping St. Pete to 10-1. More importantly, PHU takes over sole possession of first place in the Class 8A District 8 standings. The ‘Canes are 2-0 and the Green Devils fall to 1-1.
PHU set the tone early by draining three first-quarter 3-pointers and racing out to a 20-9 advantage.
St. Pete, led by Simone Wilson (14 points) and Lazasha Baskins (13 points), began to take advantage of some sloppy PHU ball handling late in the second quarter and into the third. Wilson opened the second half by hitting two of the Green Devils’ three straight buckets to give St. Pete a 33-31 edge. It was the home team’s first lead since 4-2.
That advantage proved to be short-lived, though, as PHU answered with a 12-2 run St. Pete never recovered from.
The Hurricanes’ Amber Jennings (11 points) sparked the run with a three-point play assisted by Ingram (game-high 20 points).
Ingram and Jennings were joined in double figures scoring by Chardonay Aldrich (14 points). The junior wing buried three of her attempts from long range, with her final one capping PHU’s 12-2 run that put it ahead 43-35.
St. Pete never got any closer than four points and the ‘Canes slowly built their lead by crashing the boards and hitting fourth-quarter free throws.
“We had to take care of the boards,” PHU coach Darian Dublin said. “They have some athletic girls that can get rebounds. I wanted to make sure we were in position to get those same opportunities.”
PHU out-rebounded St. Pete 39-30 and grabbed 11 offensive boards. Michaela Leonard (game-high 14 rebounds) and Ingram (10) finished in double digits.
The ‘Canes also hit 10 of 13 free throw attempts in the decisive second half.
PHU will play three times next week before traveling to Fort Myers to compete in the ultra-competitive Queen of Palms Tournament.
St. Pete is doing the same, with three games slated next week before also heading to the Christmas-break tourney.
PHU - 20 – 11 – 15 – 16 --- 62
St. Pete - 9 – 18 – 12 – 10 --- 49
Palm Harbor University (11-0, 2-0)
Megan Ingram – 20 points, 10 rebounds (5 offensive)
Chardonay Aldrich – 14 points (3 3-pointers)
Amber Jennings – 11 points
Michaela Leonard – 4 points, 14 rebounds (4 offensive)
St. Petersburg (10-1, 1-1)
Simone Wilson – 14 points, 4 rebounds
Lazasha Baskins – 13 points, 4 rebounds
Michael LaShon Everhart – 9 points
Jordan Berenbaum – 6 points, 6 rebounds (3 offensive)