SARASOTA -- Turnovers have plagued the Lakewood Ranch girls basketball team all year.
In the end, they shut down the Mustangs' season.
Behind all game, Lakewood Ranch fought valiantly to send its Class 7A-Region 3 semifinal into overtime before losing to host Sarasota 50-44 on Tuesday night.
While the Mustangs hurt themselves with unforced turnovers, the Sailors (25-4) put the clamps on Lakewood Ranch's 6-foot-3 center, LaDazhia Williams, holding the freshman to nine points and limiting her to nine rebounds. She shot 4-for-10 from the field and was limited to only two field goal attempts in the first half.
"We did do a few little things differently with her," Sarasota head coach Bob Jutras said. "We kept our
big back on free throws. We fronted her when we could and then had the backside or weakside help come over and get their hand in there."
Playing in Sarasota's small, dimly lit gym, where the crowd noise seems to vibrate against the walls, might have given Lakewood Ranch some jitters, particularly at the outset and in overtime.
The Mustangs (20-8) trailed 26-16 with five minutes left in the third quarter for their biggest deficit. They took their first lead when Kailyn Scully buried a trey and Williams scored on a layup to make it 37-36 with 4 minutes, 20 seconds, left in the game.
The lead changed hands four times in the last 3:34. Elise Spiller put Ranch up 39-38 on a driving layup with 1:28 remaining in regulation and tied the game at 41 on another basket with 33 seconds left.
Both teams blew opportunities to score in the last 33 seconds of regulation. Each had two turnovers and missed a shot. Ranch had a chance to win it with 7.5 seconds remaining and turned the ball over.
Zaharia Grable scored seven straights points on two jumpers and a 3-pointer from the corner to help Sarasota open the four-minute overtime with a 7-1 run and take a 48-42 lead with 1:45 left.
In overtime, Lakewood Ranch shot 1 for-6 from the field and committed four turnovers. It culminated a bad shooting night for the Mustangs, who were 14 for 48 from the field while Sarasota shot 17 for 45. The Sailors controlled the boards 31-24 and had 11 offensive rebounds to six by Lakewood Ranch
"We made some bad decisions at crucial times in the game," Lakewood Ranch head coach Tina Hadley said. "I thought we showed a lot of fight getting ourselves back into the game and then we took the lead. We just didn't take care of the ball in overtime. It's been a problem all year. It comes along with coaching a young team."
Scully was the only Mustang in double figures with 12 points. Emily Bulfin and Spiller had eight points apiece.
Grable led Sarasota with 18 points, and Camille Giardina, the Sailors' slick playmaking guard, had 10. Madison Pack, Sarasota's big freshman, had 11 points and eight rebounds.
Lakewood Ranch played its third straight game without 5-11 sophomore Megan Hagy, the Mustangs' second-leading rebounder. She played in the two games Lakewood Ranch defeated Sarasota and was out in the Mustangs' two losses to the Sailors. Lakewood Ranch school officials won't comment on the reason for her being held out of the last three games.
"It messes up with the chemistry when you are missing one of your starters and second rebounder and third-leading scorer, but we have to adjust to that," Hadley said.