Girls basketball | Out-of-Door Academy advances to Class 3A-District 10 final

Special to the HeraldJanuary 31, 2014 

SARASOTA -- Out-of-Door Academy slipped past Bradenton Christian 41-38 in Class 3A-District 10 play to earn a trip to Friday's title game against Cardinal Mooney.

The Thunder (12-6) took a 17-16 lead into halftime behind junior Lisa Hoffman's eight points and solid team defense.

Hoffman didn't just score, she grabbed three clutch rebounds, added a blocked shot and a steal down the stretch to seal the win.

Hoffman finished with 22 points on the night.

"It's about effort. Rebounding and playing defense take a lot of heart," Hoffman said.

Top-seeded Cardinal Mooney downed Imagine School of North Port 48-27 and will host ODA in the district final at 7 p.m. Friday. The two teams played twice in the regular season, with each team winning one game.

Bradenton Christian's Sophie Giardina slipped past the Thunder defense for an easy layup to give her team a 33-29 edge with only 5 minutes, eight seconds left in the fourth quarter.

From that point, it would be all Thunder.

ODA closed the quarter on a 12-5 run, frustrating BCS (11-13) into two crucial turnovers down the stretch.

"We just played hard. That is a tough team over there, and I'm proud of the girls for being so scrappy," Thunder head coach Jamie Roberts said.

Sophie Giardina, scored 16 points to lead BCS.

"They played hard. I'm proud of my girls; we had a good season," said Bradenton Christian's head coach Jim Van Til, who suffered his first losing season in 35 years.

For Cardinal Mooney, freshman standout Jacqueline Kulle scored 13 of her 21 points in the second half. Emily Wasler added 20 points.

"We played as a team tonight, we shared the ball and hustled on defense," Kulle said.

Cardinal Mooney led the game from the jump, forcing the Sharks into 10 first quarter turnovers, five coming in the first four minutes.

The Cougars led 27-9 at halftime.

"Our girls played well tonight, I was proud of the way they executed on both ends," Mooney head coach Ken Stokes said.

Kulle who is only a freshman is 20 points away from the 400 point club.

"That's a big deal, people throw parades when you hit 1,000 for a career and she's (Kulle) is at 400 as a freshman," Coach Stokes said.

Emily Wasler who finished with 20 points herself nailed back to back jumpers with a little under six minutes left pushing the Cougar lead back up to 24.

Cardinal Mooney held the Sharks to just 18 second half points and forced a dozen turnovers.

"The girls played hard and stayed focused, we used an occasional box and one on the shooter they had and isolated her," coach Stokes said.

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