For Fort Lauderdale Dillard star forward Kayla Wright, the BCAA Big 8 Girls’ Basketball Tournament was all about returning the title to its rightful place.
With a game-high 23 points and 17 rebounds, Wright, a Tulsa signee, made good on her promise that archrival Nova’s Big 8 reign would last only one year as Dillard beat Nova 56-29 in the title game at South Plantation on Saturday.
Eva Myers added 17 points, and Briana Green, the tournament MVP, had six points for the two-time defending state champion Panthers, who stewed after losing 70-60 in overtime to Nova in the 2012 Big 8 finals.
“I know for myself, I wanted to come out here and bring it home because last year we lost,’’ said Wright, who was named to the all-tournament team. “It was a very personal game. When we are playing Nova it’s always intense. I’m cool with everyone on Nova’s team, but on the court we’re not friends.”
Sparked by Wright and Myers, Dillard (21-2) pulled away from a tentative 13-11 lead at the end of the first quarter with a 13-3 second-quarter spurt to take a commanding 32-19 halftime lead.
Myers followed a bank shot with a three-pointer to push the lead to 25-14 before Wright capped the run with a putback off an offensive rebound with two seconds left in the second quarter.
To their credit, the Titans (17-6) played with high energy but were not able to generate easy transition baskets off their high-pressure defense as they did in forcing 35 Douglas ( 17-5) turnovers in the semifinals Friday.
Kiani Lurry had a team-high 10 points, and Madelyn Corazza added nine points for the Titans (17-6).
But Bernadette Devaney, the Titans’ leading scorer this season, capped a rare quiet game with seven points.
Dillard doused any hopes of a Nova second-half comeback by outscoring the Titans 14-1 in the third quarter.
Myers hit her second three-pointer, and Wright converted back-to-back layups for a 41-19 cushion with 3:23 left in the third quarter. By that time Titans sixth-year coach Jason Hively had seen enough and called timeout.
“Everyone came to play tonight,’’ Dillard coach Marcia Pinder said. “The goal and focus was more intact today than in last year’s Big 8 Finals. Tonight was about being more patient. Before, we have not been patient. We felt we had a shot clock and had to rush shots.”
• BCAA Big 8 girls championship game – Dillard 56, Nova 29 – DIL (21-2): Wright 23, Anderson 3, Clayton 4, Green 6, Myers 17, Lee 2, Burns 1. NOV (17-6): Lurry 10, Devaney 7, English-Lurry 1, Roberts 2, Corazza 9. Halftime: DIL 32-19. Three-pointers: Devaney 1, Corazza 1, Myers 3. Rebounds: Wright 17, Anderson 10, Clayton 10. Assists: Parson 6. Steals: Parson 4.