If Elizah Pagkanlungan was nervous as she attempted the biggest free throws of her career, she sure didn't show it.
Barron Collier's stone-faced point guard stepped to the line and calmly swished the deciding shots with 2.3 seconds left in Friday's Class 6A-District 14 championship girls basketball game. Pagkanlungan's pressure-packed free throws gave the Cougars a 44-42 victory over rival Gulf Coast.
"I was shaking," Pagkanlungan said of her first game-winners. "The crowd was rowdy, so I tried to block everyone out ... I said, 'This is going in. I got this,' and it went in."
Barron Collier won its fourth straight district championship, and 12th title in 13 years under coach Mike Hamburg.
The Cougars (15-13) will host Cape Coral-Baker in a 6A regional quarterfinal game Thursday. As district runner-up, Gulf Coast (20-8) will head to District 13 champion Fort Myers on Thursday.
Pagkanlungan's free throws ended a tense fourth quarter at host school Palmetto Ridge. Each team had chances to win in the final moments.
Gulf Coast tied the game on Mackenzie Reiselt's driving layup with 32 seconds left. After calling a timeout with 17 seconds to play, the Cougars held the ball for the final shot. Pagkanlungan went hard to the basket, and was fouled by Jessice Leitz with 2.3 seconds left to set up the winning shots.
The Sharks, who split the regular season series with Barron Collier, had the ball with 20 seconds left and the game tied 42-42. However, Gulf Coast committed one of its 26 turnovers on the ensuing possession.
"We played hard," Sharks coach Mark Woodruff said. "I have no qualms with how we played or the girls' effort. We just got a couple of unlucky breaks at the end."
Gulf Coast nearly stole the district title on a desperation heave, but Reiselt's shot at the buzzer from three-fourths the length of the court hit the front of the rim.
"It should have gone in," said Reiselt, who scored a game-high 18 points. "We played our hearts out. We can't really complain. (Barron Collier) played well."
Barron Collier trailed by five points with less than seven minutes to play. The Cougars charged back behind a rejuvenated offense.
After scoring just 27 points in the first three quarters, the Cougars had 17 in the final period. Senior Hannah Gorton hit 3-of-4 free throws in the fourth.
"We need to calm ourselves down and settle the offense," said Pagkanlungan, who led Barron Collier with 14 points. "We lost to Gulf Coast (last time) so we came out really wanting it. We needed revenge and we got it."
BARRON COLLIER 44, GULF COAST 42
BARRON COLLIER (44)
Pagkanlungan 5 2-2 14, Jakia Davis 0 1-2 1, Denti 1 1-1 3, Gorton 1 5-6 7, Frost 3 0-4 8, Ferrucci 1 2-6 4, Summers 0 0-0 0, Langham 2 1-2 7, Lozada 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 12-23 44.
GULF COAST (42)
Harris 0 0-0 0, Jagodzinski 1 0-0 2, Reiselt 7 3-5 18, London 1 2-5 4, Venvertloh 0 0-0 0, Hughes 2 0-0 4, DiPietro 3 0-5 6, Lietz 1 6-7 8. Totals: 15 11-22 42.
BC 10 12 5 17 — 44
GC 14 9 7 12 — 42
Three-pointers: BC — Frost 2, Langham 2, Pagkanlungan 2; GC — Reiselt. Fouls: BC 21, GC 17; Fouled out: None.