In dire need of some star power after a string of defections and sub .500 seasons rendered the Blanche Ely girls’ basketball program as an afterthought, the Tigers got just what the doctored with the arrival of high-scoring Battle sisters — freshman Tyesha, sophomore Brianna and junior Kanesha.
After leading upstart Zion Lutheran to its best season in school history, this dynamic trio and their “Showtime” attack is poised to restore Ely to its once lofty perch.
Ely’s Big 3 gave Tigers fans a glimpse of things to come at the Deerfield Beach Tip-Off Classic this past Saturday when Kanesha went off for 49 points and Brianna added 22 points, highlighted by a three-pointer to beat the buzzer and force overtime in a 90-83 win over St. Thomas Aquinas.
For first year Ely coach Shantel Hayes, who played for legendary Dillard coach Marcia Pinder, having three standouts, led by Kanesha, a Class 2A first-team selection last season, capable of scoring 20-plus points on any given night, makes the Tigers instant contenders in a loaded District 14-7A.
“All three sisters bring a level of intensity to the entire team,” Hayes said. “They are fearless when it comes to attacking the basket.
“A different dynamic to the game is their aggressiveness. I believe with them, we have a chance to compete for a district title this year.”
Although the Battles’ transfer to Ely came as a surprise to some, a part of the decision came down to the sisters making their own mark at a school where their cousins Eddie Jones (basketball) and Tyrone Carter (football) are established as all-time Ely greats.
Now its up to district rivals Northeast, Fort Lauderdale and Boyd Anderson to figure out how to slow down Kanesha (29.5 ppg), Brianna (24.9 ppg) and Tyesha (12 ppg), a puzzle that few solved last season.
Factor in the sisters’ willingness to share the ball, and it’s easy to see why Zion Lutheran was able to sustain its high-powered attack.
Last season when Kanesha (29.5 ppg), the 2013-14 Broward Class 4A-1A Player of the Year, had a rare off night shooting, Brianna and Tyesha were there to pick up the slack.
“Even if teams shut me down, I know my sisters will have my back, “Kanesha said. “I know my sisters will pick it up for me. I know Northeast won the district last year. Since we came to Ely we’re not going to let it happen again. A lot of people have been doubting Ely for the past years because they haven’t had anyone and gone anywhere. This year we are looking forward to making a statement.”
Ely’s newest stars will get their first taste of a tough district schedule on Nov.29 when they host Boyd Anderson.
The Tigers are home for Fort Lauderdale (Dec.2) and Northeast (Dec.10), the defending district champion before hosting perennial state power Dillard on Dec.13 in what should be a standing-room-only crowd at the historic Ely gym.
As if the Battles needed any extra motivation, they are aware of the critics who question if they will be able to put up the big numbers against a tougher schedule and more physical play in 7A as they did against Class 2A last season.
“That’s all the talk,” Brianna Battle said. “They said we’re not ready to play 7A ball. Well we’re ready for anybody on our schedule.”
Dec. 27, 29, 30: Junior Orange Bowl Classic (Ronald Reagan High School).
Jan. 22-24: BCAA championships (South Plantation High School).
Jan. 26-31: District tournaments.
Feb. 5, 10, 13: Regional tournaments.
Feb. 17-21: State finals (The Lakeland Center).
Class 8A: Miami High; 7A: Wekiva; 6A: Orlando Edgewater; 5A: Southeast; 4A: Ribault; 3A: Miami Country Day; 2A: Grandview Prep; 1A: Paxton.
TOP 10 TEAMS (8A-5A)
Dillard; Nova; Deerfield Beach; American Heritage; Blanche Ely; Cypress Bay; South Broward; Fort Lauderdale; Northeast; Flanagan.
TOP 10 TEAMS (4A-1A)
Calvary Christian; Coral Springs Charter; Highlands Christian; Westminster Academy; Sagemont; Pine Crest; Coral Springs Christian; Sheridan Hills Christian; North Broward Prep; Hollywood Christian.
TOP 15 PLAYERS
Mary Katherine Moore, St. Thomas Aquinas, Jr. C; Destiny Frazier, Dillard, Jr. G; Samantha Johnson, American Heritage, Sr. G; Shante Walker, South Broward, So. F; Jacaira Allen, Dillard, Jr. G; Jamesha Paul, Dillard, Sr. F; Mikiah Harrigan, Flanagan, Jr. C; Scarlett Rocha, Cypress Bay, Sr. G; Kanesha Battle, Blanche Ely, Jr. G; Brianna Battle, Blanche Ely, So. G; Kiani Lurry, Nova, Sr. F; Deja Roberts, Nova, Sr. G; Victoria Hadler Deerfield Beach, Jr. F; Ashley Saintigene Northeast Jr. C; Keyanna Warthen Fort Lauderdale, So. F
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH
AMERICAN HERITAGE: Hayley Duren; Skyla Osceola; Krystal Moncrief; Taylor Smith.
ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY: Reagan McCray; Amber Amortegui, Monica Grimaldo.
BOYD ANDERSON: Kenya Lindo; Resacia DeGrafenreidt; S’Kaydrah Woods; Deondria Wimber.
CALVARY CHRISTIAN: Kelsey Nevils; Julia Sieradzan; Natasha Patullo; Amber Bender; Olivia Derr.
CARDINAL GIBBONS: Michelle Cohen; Ayanna Armstead.
CORAL SPRINGS CHARTER: Jamie Williams; Kat Williams; Linay Etienne.
CYPRESS BAY: Jessie Lizano; Kelly Steele; Mady Jaso.
DILLARD: Amber Lee; Ragene Grier; Courtney Parson; Jade Wyatt.
DOUGLAS: Makayla Green; Lia Sammaritano; Lisa Charles.
EVERGLADES: Amari Stewart; Alyssa Jones; Ally Montero; Kiara Mutarah.
FLANAGAN: Jennifer Oramas; Dominique Wilburn; Dymond Cogdell.
MIRAMAR: Nastogia Smith; Jonetta Tejada; Tianna Ayulo; Cheniya Jordan.
MONARCH: Keanna Crawford; Marquel Thompson; Shanice Louis.
NORTHEAST: Kandis Taylor; Nailah Delinois; Christina Davis; Taniyah Pluviose
NOVA: Rishanti Cowart; Rikiah Cowart; Erin Gutierrez; Madelyn Corazza.
SAGEMONT: Glory Jones; Katlyn Smith; Alonora Almodovar.
SOUTH BROWARD: Mackenzie Sadaka; Terrissa Russell; Tacoria Burgess; Michelle Wright.
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Shanell Atkins; Deneah Ambroise; Angel Tunnage.
WESTERN: Nichole Periu; Shannon Stabile; Talya Frost.
WESTMINSTER ACADEMY: Raquel Rosa; Brooke Oman; Savannah Kelmanson.