BROOKSVILLE - A day after losing to Citrus in a game that took an emotional and physical toll, Nature Coast at least made sure to leave with some hardware.
The Lady Sharks garnered a third-place trophy in the fourth annual Hernando Holiday Classic by defeating Plant City on Saturday, 55-43.
"We're happy to come out with a win today because it sure wasn't an easy win, but a win's a win and we'll take it," Nature Coast head coach Emily Gore said.
"We're a little frustrated after today's game; we didn't play well at all. But I think overall, coming out of here with a third-place victory, that's good for our team."
Rita Jarque totaled exactly 20 points and 20 rebounds to pace the Lady Sharks (13-3 overall, 2-1 in tournament).
She scored 12 points in the second half, shaking off a balky back she injured the night before, producing her third 20-20 performance of the season.
That followed her scoring 17 points to go with a career-high 24 boards against Citrus, and notching 14 and 12 on Thursday in a win over South Sumter.
"My back was killing me," said Jarque, adding that she overcame the pain by, "Just not thinking about it, keeping my head in the game and paying attention to the team.
"We should have came out more than third place. We had a tough game last night. We just kept putting them on the (foul) line. If we didn't put them on the line we would have won the game.
"But third place, I think we pulled through this game pretty hard. Since last night and not have a letdown tonight, I think that's pretty good."
Jarque felt she needed to step up as Nature Coast was again without point guard Fatima Jones, trying to shake the lingering effects of a concussion suffered last month.
Jones had played against South Sumter, but sat out until midway through the fourth quarter on Friday. She did not see any action in this one, and Gore anticipated Jones would visit a doctor next week.
Another starting guard, Emmalee Harris, didn't start due to the injured knee she tweaked the previous night. However, she entered the game in the second quarter, started out of halftime and played down the stretch, scoring eight points.
Mirandas Jones carried the offensive load early. Having scored 17 and 27 the first two tournament games, she had 18 points - 14 in the first half.
Things soured in the second half, though, when she was hit with two technical fouls, one for arguing a non-call and another in an exchange with Plant City's Jada Youngblood that resulted in a double technical.
The Lady Raiders (7-9 overall, 1-2 in tournament) still never seriously threatened, despite Shayna Lawrence scoring 15 of her team-high 18 points over the final two quarters, while hauling in 12 rebounds and blocking three shots.
For Nature Coast, Latavea Sesler chipped in eight rebounds and four steals. Talicia Liles also had four steals.
"We knew we had a big game yesterday with Citrus," Gore said. "We didn't want to have a letdown today after that big game. Maybe we had a little bit of a letdown, but we found a way to win. So that's still a positive thing for us.
"There's a lot of positives we can take out of this tournament. We've never walked out of here with a trophy. So I'm pretty proud of our girls."
Earlier Saturday, Central finished fifth by defeating host Hernando, 48-31. Evelyn Anderson scored 19 points, knocking down five 3-pointers, for the Lady Bears (7-8, 2-1 in tournament).
The Lady Leopards (10-7, 1-2 in tournament) were led by Arianna Tankersley with eight points.
Citrus went on the win the tournament championship, defeating West Palm Beach-King's Academy, 48-20.
Nature Coast 55, Plant City 43
Qtr. Scoring 1 2 3 4
NCT 13 13 19 10 - 55
PC 4 11 14 14 - 43
Nature Coast (55): Tyson 0, Liles 0, Jarque 10 0-2 20, M. Jones 6 5-7 18, Sesler 1 2-6 4, Harris 1 5-8 8, Hurtado 1 0-0 3, Jarman 1 0-0 2, Williams 0, Garcia 0, Eberts 0. Totals 20 12-23 55.
Plant City (43): Youngblood 4 0-0 8, Morales 3 0-2 6, Lawrence 6 5-9 18, Wilkerson 2 0-0 4, Hargrove 3 0-1 7, Michaels 0, Bennett 0, Bush 0, Stifler 0. Totals 18 5-12 43.
Three-point field goals: NCT 3 (M. Jones, Harris, Hurtado); PC 2 (Hargrove, Lawrence).
Total fouls: NCT 14; PC 16.
Technical fouls: M. Jones 2 (NCT), Youngblood (PC).
Fouled out: none.
Records: Nature Coast (13-3 overall, 2-1 in tournament), Plant City (7-9 overall, 1-2 in tournament).
Hernando Holiday Classic
Plant City 35, Hernando 32
West Palm Beach-King's Academy 38, Fivay 30
Citrus 63, Central 44
Nature Coast 60, South Sumter 32
Hernando 42, Fivay 16
Central 40, South Sumter 29
King's Academy 55, Plant City 32
Citrus 57, Nature Coast 53
South Sumter 36, Fivay 32 (2 OT)
Central 48, Hernando 31
Nature Coast 55, Plant City 43
Citrus 48, King's Academy 20