Girls basketball: Bloomingdale beats Ponte Vedra in 6A semis to remain perfect — March 7, 2024

Hillsborough County has become a girls basketball hub recently with Tampa Bay Tech (2019), Carrollwood Day (2020) and Plant (2021) all winning state titles in consecutive seasons. 

On Saturday, Bloomingdale has a chance to become the fourth county school to win a state title in the last six years after rallying to beat Ponte Vedra 55-50 in the Class 6A semifinals. 

The Bulls will face defending state champion Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in Saturday’s championship game at 12:30 p.m.

One more win and Bloomingdale will not only have its first girls basketball title in school history but also achieve another remarkable feat by finishing the season undefeated. 

Staying perfect for this long can be tough. 

The Bulls (30-0) found out once again on Thursday.

In the 6A semifinals, Bloomingdale had trouble getting into an offensive rhythm for most of the game. They trailed at the half (25-24) and after the third quarter (37-33). 

But there was no panic, no sense of woe. 

After all, the Bulls had been in these situations before. 

There was the double overtime win over Sickles earlier this year. The one-point win over Armwood in the 6A-10 district final. And the massive fourth quarter comeback against Punta Gorda Charlotte in the region final. 

Big deficits? Tight games? Tense moments? Bloomingdale had been through all of that – and prevailed each time. 

This final four matchup would be no different. 

Four players — Izellah Kendrick, Noelle Mengel, Tabitha Vega and Faith Wilson — were on the last Bulls team to make it to the state semifinals in 2021-22. 

That experience ended with a 28-point loss to Wekiva. 

The veterans remembered that feeling and were determined not to leave disappointed again. 

Everything came together when it mattered most. Bloomingdale created turnovers. The offense was efficient. And when players went to the line, they connected on nearly every shot. 

In all, the Bulls made 17 of 18 free throws. 

Mengel led all scorers with 25 points. Kendrick finished with 15. 

Another close game. Another win.

Now, the Bulls need just one more to cap off a perfect season with a title.