TARPON SPRINGS — In each of the Lady Tarpons three postseason wins this year Bella Desjardins has hit a first-quarter 3.
Thursday’s regional quarterfinal at East Lake was no different. She hit three in the first quarter and scored 24 total in a 70-35 romp.
“It sets the tempo,” Desjardins said. “Knowing that I’m on fire and have a good flow going really sets my team up because if they see me on a roll, then they’re gonna be on a roll. It sets the pace and tempo. (Playoffs) are a lot of excitement, but also a lot of pressure.”
Desjardins has a knack for finding the basket early and that sets everything in motion. The Lady Tarpons (21-3) dominated the first quarter, outscoring the Lady Eagles (20-8) 17-3.
Not only does it get her into a groove, but it gets her counterpart Ary Hicks into open spots as well.
The duo combined for 23 of Charlotte’s 30 points in the first half as the Lady Tarpons held a 13-point lead. Hicks finished with 16.
“It starts at the point guard spot, Ary is very unselfish,” Charlotte coach Matt Stephenson said. “She looks to get (Bella) the ball because she knows that if Bella’s hitting and the other team is worrying about her then she can carve them up on the inside.”
The Tarpons worked the baseline in the third quarter, hitting four baskets on the same move — a pump fake and drive for an easy layup. By mid-quarter, Charlotte extended it’s lead to 20.
The fourth quarter was much of the same with Charlotte using steals and transition to edge East Lake 19-8 for the quarter.
The win sets Charlotte up for a rematch with Braden River, who won 63-23 over Wiregrass Ranch. The Lady Pirates edged Charlotte last week in the district title game, but Charlotte knows what to expect on the road come Tuesday.
“I know for a fact we’re not gonna have the same start we had against them last time,” Stephenson said. “I have the utmost confidence in our girls to come out and execute the game plan and do what we’re supposed to do to get them. They’re the top team in the region for a reason and we gotta come out there and do what we gotta go.”