By the time Northeast decided it was time to guard South Broward sharpshooter Alexis Pester, the Hurricanes’ playoff fate was all but sealed.
Northeast dared Pester to beat it from the perimeter, and South Broward’s leading scorer made the Hurricanes pay with 10 points in a row and 13 of their first 15 to start the Region 4-7A quarterfinal, a cushion that ultimately helped the Bulldogs (17-5) hold on for a 49-36 victory Thursday.
Bulldogs center Briyana Lloyd bounced back from a frustrating first half of not being able to finish strong around the basket to have 12 points and a career-high 18 rebounds.
The Bulldogs advanced to face District 16-7A rival Nova in the Region 4-7A semifinals on Tuesday.
Pester’s hot shooting staked the Bulldogs to a 27-14 halftime lead before the Hurricanes (16-6) stormed back by outscoring the Bulldogs 14-2 in the third quarter behind a talented underclassmen nucleus of Kya Morris, Shauntavia Dobson (12 points), Nailah Delinois and Ashley Saintigene (12 points).
Morris lit the spark with a three-point play, Saintigene added two driving layups and Dobson drained a three-pointer with three seconds left in the third quarter to pull the Hurricanes within 29-28.
But a Bulldogs team well-versed in the rich tradition built on six state titles dominated the fourth quarter with a 20-8 edge that started with Aaliyah Spatafora’s three-point play off a steal and layup.
Alexis Brito (10 points) hit a momentum-swinging three-pointer, and Pester, re-emerging after a scoreless third quarter, tossed in a tough runner on the left baseline for a 39-32 Bulldogs lead with 3:47 left.
NE (16-6): Saintigene 12, Delinois 2, Morris 4, Porter 4, Dobson 12, Gordon 2. SB (17-5): Pester 20, Spatafora 5, Brito 10, Mack 2, Lloyd 12. Three-pointers: Dobson 2, Pester 4, Brito 2. Rebounds: Lloyd 18. Steals: Spatafora 6
• Region 4-6A quarterfinal — Miami Norland 54, Fort Lauderdale 14: The Flying L’s (15-11) were overwhelmed by the host Vikings’ defense from the start, falling behind 17-0 to start the game. Kinrecia Francois was the lone bright spot in the loss, scoring eight points and connecting on a three-pointer.
Fort Lauderdale advanced to the regional round for the second consecutive season.
Brittany Dinkins led the way for the Vikings with 17 points and four steals, while Nia Roberts had 14 points and seven rebounds.
ANDRE C. FERNANDEZ
FTL (15-11): Harris 2, Dejesus 2, Francois 8, DeGraff 2. NOR (25-3): Dinkins 17, Hilbert 4, Jean-Baptiste 7, N. Roberts 14, Williams 10, McCoy 2. Halftime: NOR 37-7. Three-pointers: Dinkins, Francois. Rebounds: N. Roberts, Williams 7. Assists: Ford 3. Steals: Dinkins 4.
• Region 4-4A quarterfinal — Miami Monsignor Pace 43, Cardinal Gibbons 28: It didn’t matter that Monsignor Pace walked into Thursday night’s Class 4A regional quarterfinal contest with a 12-13 record. Hosting Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons, the Spartans, led by Maikala McLoud’s 17 points, had no problem disposing of the Chiefs, cruising to the 15-point victory.
Pace, which avenged a 52-49 loss to Gibbons in this same round a year ago, will host Coral Springs Charter in a regional semifinal Tuesday night.
CG (14-10): Williams 11, Cohen 8, Jones 5, Ozaltin 4. MP (13-13): McCloud 17, Floyd 13, Nairn 7, Wilson 3, Harrington 3. Halftime: MP 24-17. Three-pointers: McCloud 2, Wilson. Rebounds: Nairn 15. Assists: Harrington 8. Steals: McCloud 4.