SEMINOLE - Hernando Christian Academy coach Mike Drummond could finally rejoice after his team held on for a 38-37 win against Tampa-Bayshore Christian in the Class 2A, District 8 semifinals Thursday night at St. Petersburg-Keswick Christian School.
After senior Kady Curry's 3-point play pushed the lead to 37-29 with 1:32 left in the game, the Lady Lions (10-14) appeared in control. Instead, they had to hang on for dear life after Bayshore used an 8-1 run in about 90 seconds to pull within one.
The Faith Warriors had a chance to win it, but Ashley DeJuan missed a pair of free throws with 2.6 seconds left.
"I'm already starting to think ahead," Drummond said. "I'm thinking box out. I'm thinking if she makes them, what are we going to do?"
Fortunately for Drummond, he didn't have to find out, as the Lady Lions came away with the loose ball after the second missed free throw.
"I just told my girls (after the game), 'You guys got a few more minutes to destiny," he said. "We wanted to get this one. We have a senior on our team and we wanted to extend our season. I'm just thrilled to death with this win here."
HCA jumped out to a 22-12 lead in the second quarter behind Milly Jackson's hot start. Jackson, only a seventh-grader, had eight first-quarter points, including the first six of the game for the Lady Lions. She finished with 17, while her sister Mary had 12 points, nine rebounds and seven steals.
Bayshore used a 14-4 run to draw even, 26-26, early in the fourth, but Mary Jackson answered with four straight points to make it 30-26.
"We knew they were a little better second-half team than us. I knew it would be to our advantage to have a lead at halftime, and fortunately we were able to do that," Drummond said.
HCA will play in the championship game on Friday at 7 p.m., but is already assured a spot in regionals for only the third time in team history. The Lady Lions had previously made it in 2008 and 2012.