Girls basketball | Young Lakewood Ranch team hangs on for ugly win over Palmetto

adell@bradenton.comJanuary 9, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The Lakewood Ranch girls basketball team committed 27 turnovers and shot 25 percent from the field.

"We played bad. You cannot win with 27 turnovers," Mustangs head coach Tina Hadley said.

But they won, hanging on to beat visiting Palmetto 41-40.

"It makes me feel excellent. ... I might be willing to play that bad as long as we win, but that won't happen often," Hadley said. "It was a season high for turnovers. We won by the hair on our chinny, chinny chin."

Hadley is used to these wacky numbers. It's happens when you start four freshmen. Nothing makes sense except her girls are 9-5 and are starting to look like Hadley's Fab Four.

Lakewood Ranch led 25-15 late in the second half and looked as if it would coast to victory. But holding on to success is not always easy. Palmetto (12-6) fought back and took a 38-36 lead with 2:48 left in the game.

Jermisha Collins' basket for Palmetto with 57 seconds left tied the score at 40. Then Lakewood Ranch's defense kicked in. Freshman Kyra Klarkowski got a steal and fed Ve'Andrea Houston, who knocked in one of two free throws with 33.7 seconds remaining.

Palmetto turned the ball over, Lakewood Ranch missed, and the Tigers got the ball back. They missed two shots, and Klarkowski got her seventh steal of the night to ice the game.

"We played like freshmen tonight, but she doesn't play like a freshman," Hadley said. "Kyra is very mature and very athletic. She has a big upside. She got us off to a good start."

Lakewood Ranch and Palmetto are in the same district, but the game did not count toward the district standings. The Mustangs are 2-0 in district play, and Palmetto is 2-1.

Klarkowski and junior Emily Bulfin shared scoring honors with 14 points apiece. Bulfin led the Mustangs with nine rebounds and was 5-of-15 from the field. Klarkowski shot 4-of-17 with Lakewood Ranch connecting on 14 of 54 field-goal attempts.

Collins, Palmetto's sophomore sensation, led the Tigers in nearly every important category, including 19 points, 10 rebounds,

five steals and four assists. She was her team's only player to hit double figures.

"We knew they were going to pick and roll us to death, and we didn't do anything in the first half to stop it and didn't help each other out," Palmetto head coach Robert Kelly said. "In the second half, we cut their passes off. But we are going to see them in the district championship game, and we are going to bring it.

"Jermisha always has a big game, but we got to get her to play more under control. She is only in 10th grade, and we are asking a lot from her. We missed some shots down the line that we shouldn't have missed, and when you play a team like Lakewood Ranch, you've got to make every basket count."

Jasmin Garibay connected on 4 of 5 shots and scored nine points for the Tigers, who were 19-of-49 from the field. Collins shot 9-for-21.

"I was just hoping to play good defense and try to contain Jermisha was my focus," Klarkowski said. "She is a really good player and can drive really well. This is a rivalry for us because I was supposed to go to Palmetto and kind of know them. I try to lead by example by going out there and playing hard. We are going to be good."

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