Girls’ basketball | Class 4A final: Ribault 65, Coral Springs Charter 47

Cold shooting sinks Coral Springs Charter in final


Coral Springs Charter was held to 30 percent shooting by Jacksonville Ribault and lost its bid for its first state title.

If you go

What : The state girls’ basketball finals.

When : Through Saturday.

Where : The Lakeland Center, 701 W. Lime St., Lakeland.

Admission : $10 per session; Parking: $7 per day.

Thursday’s results: Class 6A semifinals — Fort Walton Beach Choctawatchee 55, Winter Haven 48; Orlando Edgewater 60, Miami Norland 45; Class 4A championship — Jacksonville Ribault 65, Coral Springs Charter 47; Class 3A championship — Daytona Beach Father Lopez 44, Miami Country Day 40.

Friday’s schedule: Class 5A semifinals — Tallahassee Rickards vs. St. Petersburg Lakewood, 10 a.m.; Dillard vs. St. Johns Bartram Trail, 11:30 a.m.; Class 7A semifinals — Tampa Freedom vs. Gainesville Buchholz, 2:30; Nova vs. Haines City, 4; Class 8A semifinals — Orlando Dr. Phillips vs. Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer, 7; Miami High vs. Orlando Colonial, 8:30.

Saturday’s schedule: Class 5A championship — 10:05 a.m.; Class 6A championship — Edgewater vs. Choctawatchee, 1:35 p.m.; Class 7A championship — 5:05; Class 5A championship — 8:35.

Senior Morgan Smellie and junior Emily Williams each watched their three-point shots go in Thursday night.

For a few moments, it appeared Coral Springs Charter was ready to take down another mighty opponent and complete a dream season.

But the sharp shooting didn’t come often enough for the Panthers.

Despite staying within single-digits until the final four minutes of the game, Coral Springs Charter couldn’t overcome Jacksonville Ribault in a 65-47 loss in the Class 4A state championship game at The Lakeland Center.

The Panthers (24-7), who were making their second consecutive appearance at the state final four, were vying for the school’s first state championship.

Ribault (31-0) completed a perfect season and won its state-best ninth championship.

“The girls competed and we had an emotional game the other night,” Charter coach Ericka Haney. “We struggled shooting the ball, but we rallied and my girls never gave up.”

Two days after Charter rallied to beat Port Orange Atlantic, a team led by the state’s top-rated senior in Ronni Williams, the Panthers began another potential comeback midway through the fourth quarter.

Chelsie Hall’s five points and Emily Williams’ layup sparked an 8-2 run that cut Ribault’s lead to 52-44 with 4:08 left in the fourth quarter. But the Trojans scored on the next three possessions to put the game out of reach.

Charter was held to only 30 percent shooting (13 of 43) even though it made 6 of 19 from three-point range.

Ribault denied Charter a chance to sustain momentum at two other key instances in the game.

Williams connected on a three-pointer to open the third quarter, cutting Ribault’s lead to 27-26. The Trojans used a 10-1 run sparked by guards Sierra Shepherd and Kayla Rogers to push the lead to double-digits.

Smellie hit a three-pointer to start the game. After eight quick points from Shepherd, Charter never led again.

“We tried to get it back with our defense and we got some turnovers and steals,” Haney said. “It was a matter of just making shots, and some games simply come down to that.”

The Panthers reached Lakeland despite the loss of Aisha Edwards, a 5-6 point guard who was ranked third in the state in the junior class by ESPN, after she was dismissed from the team for disciplinary reasons.

Charter battled valiantly behind collective efforts from its young team that loses only one senior starter (Smellie).

Every starter Thursday had at least seven points, led by Williams, who scored a team-high 14 points. Smellie finished with nine points. Lejha Smith had 10 rebounds and Cici Wojcik had seven but not enough of them translated to vital points for Charter.

“As a group we’ve gelled together and stayed focused on a goal,” Haney said. “With everything we’ve gone through, it was a great year for us. Our girls battled and I can’t say enough about them. I lose one that I’m going to miss dearly, but I get all these girls back next year, and we moved a step closer.”

RIB (31-0): Tapley 12, Norman 4, Shepherd 17, Rogers 6, Reddick 10, Gipson 9, Harris 4, James 3. CSC (24-7): Wojcik 8, Hall 7, Wyatt 8, E. Williams 14, Smellie 9, Smith 1. Half: RIB 27-23. Three-pointers: Smellie 3, E. Williams 2, Hall, Tapley. Fouled out: Norman. Rebounds: Reddick 13. Assists: Reddick 5. Steals: Shepherd 4.

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