Lady Bulldogs rally falls just short, 40-39

Llanes scores 26 in loss to Land O’ Lakes

Land O’ Lakes held off a late Zephyrhills rally Tuesday night to hang on for a 40-39 win at Alan Reed Court.

Maya Llanes scored a game-high 26 points and helped spark the second-half surge that nearly erased a six-point halftime deficit.

The spark ignited late in the third quarter with the Bulldogs down by eight points when Llanes scored on layup, made a quick steal and another layup, plus a quick basket to open the fourth quarter. She scored six points in 12 seconds.

With 1:17 left in the game, the Lady Bulldogs trailed 40-36. Freshman guard Allison McCullough found Llanes behind the arc where she canned a clutch three-pointer to close the gap to 40-39.

The Bulldogs had their chances to pull ahead after getting a steal on the following Gators’ possession, but turned the ball over back to Land O’ Lakes with 51 seconds to play. After a Bulldogs’ foul, the Gators missed a pair of free throws giving Zephyrhills the ball back.

With 36.6 seconds left, ZHS coach Chris Smith called a time out to set up a play, but a miss from under the basket gave the Gators the ball with 16 seconds left. After a Land O’ Lakes’ timeout, the Bulldogs couldn’t get a steal and failed to foul in enough time to get them enough time to get the ball down the court for a winning basket.

“It all comes down to who wants the ball,” a disappointed Smith said. “When they want it more than you, you’re going to get embarrassed. That’s what happened. They don’t understand the intensity it takes to compete. At some point, you’re going to say you’re not going to accept somebody punching me in the face. You have to step up.”

The Lady Bulldogs are 13-4 on the season with a pair of losses to the Gators. The first time the two faced each other, Land O’ Lakes won handily 61-35 in the second game of the season.

“We focused on breaking their press and we did that,” said Smith. “We continued to not rebound the ball. They got five offensive rebounds against us in the first possession of the game. That happened over and over again.”

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