After Dillard’s Kayla Wright and American Heritage’s Raigyne Moncrief turned the first half of the Region 4-5A semifinal into their own game of H-O-R-S-E, it was Dillard’s supporting cast that helped the Panthers clear their biggest hurdle to a fourth consecutive state title.
Wright had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Brianna Green scored 12 points, including seven straight in a pivotal third quarter stretch, to offset a game-high 20 points from Moncrief as the Source Hoops No. 1 Panthers pulled away late for a 67-53 victory over the No. 2 Patriots at Dillard on Tuesday night.
“We came out kind of flat and Raigyne and I were going back and forth there in the first half, so I was getting a little nervous,” Wright said. “But everybody helped out at the end and it paid off. We got the win and that’s all that matters.”
Dillard (25-2), which took three of the four meetings against the Patriots this season, advances to face the Lehigh-Cape Coral winner in the regional final on Feb. 16.
Eva Myers had 16 points and LaQuacious Adams had 10 points for the Panthers. Deanna Bradley had 11 points and Krystal Moncrief added eight points for the Patriots (20-6).
Moncrief, an LSU signee, dazzled as a one-player fast break with her end-to-end speed and didn’t come out of the game until she fouled out with a minute left.
“We had a game plan for them in the second half, but we didn’t come through,’’ Moncrief said. “I’m the captain. I’m supposed to make plays when they need me. Kayla is a great player. She is hard to stop. We are both go-to players on our team. They just came out with the win, but I’m proud of my young team.”
Trailing 32-31at halftime, Dillard got the spark it needed from Wright, Green and Adams to forge ahead for good.
Wright got things started with a three-point play, Green rattled off seven points, Adams tossed in a bank shot and Wright made a layup for a 51-41 lead with 28.2 seconds left in the third quarter.
The first half evolved into a classic shootout between the two stars as Moncrief tallied 15 points and Wright muscled her way inside for 12 points.
Moncrief’s athleticism was on full display to close the second quarter as she elevated high for an offensive rebound and banked in a shot while getting knocked to the floor. Moncrief completed the three-point play to tie the game 29-29 and Vianne Martinez hit a running bank shot to give the Patriots a 32-31 halftime lead.
AH (20-6) Moncrief 20, Chisholm 8, Bradley 10, S. Osceola 2, Martinez 5, K. Moncrief 8. Dill (25-2): Wright 19, Myers 16, Parson 1, Anderson 4, Green 12, Adams 10, Frazier 5. Half: AH 32-31. Three-pointers: Chisholm 2, Frazier 1. Rebounds: R. Moncrief 12, Green 10, Myers 10. Wright 10. Assists: Green 5. R. Moncrief 4. Steals: R. Moncrief 5. Green 5, Myers 5.
DOUGLAS 13, DEERFIELD BEACH 6
WP: Nikki Kelly 2-1. LP: Taylor Zubko. Top performers: Hailey Leonard 3-5 2 rbi 2 runs scored
CORAL SPRINGS CHARTER 17, CHAMINADE 1 (6)
WP: Bramos (1-0). LP: McCabe (0-2). Top performers: Casey Huber 4-5, double, 2 RBI, 2 runs. Kayla Scaperrotta 3-5, triple, 3 RBI. Macmurdo 2-3, RBI. CSC 1-0