Looking to defend their title from a year ago, that’s exactly what South Broward went out and did on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a double digit lead early in the third quarter and then held off a resilient Fort Lauderdale squad to pull out a 60-56 victory in the BCAA Big 8 Girls Tournament at South Plantation High School. It marked South Broward’s seventh overall BCAA title.
And as seems to be the case so many times, senior Shante Walker was the big performer. Walker, who is getting interest from the likes of Grambling, FIU and FAU, finished the night with 25 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, one steal and three very important blocked shots.
Not surprisingly, she was named the tournament MVP.
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“I was just feeling it tonight,” said Walker. “I worked hard for it, I shot well before the game and I really wanted this win.”
Walker’s 11 first half points helped her team to a 10 point halftime lead and when the Bulldogs (22-3) scored the first four points of the second half, they enjoyed their biggest lead of the night at 34-20.
But, led by Indiana signee Keyanna Warthen, Ft. Lauderdale showed that its 20-2 record coming in was no fluke. Warthen would finish the night matching Walker’s 25 points but had just four points in the fourth quarter including a meaningless layup at the buzzer.
“We decided to really press her (Warthen) and force her to get the ball to other players in the fourth quarter,” said South Broward head coach Richard Walker (no relation to Shante). “It worked and then Shante just went out there and did what she does. She wanted to leave it all on the floor tonight and that’s exactly what she did. She lives for stuff like this and lives for the big moment. After awhile, you just come to expect that out of her so nothing surprises you.”
Not once but twice, the Flying L’s trimmed South Broward’s lead to four. First at 43-39 with a minute left in the third quarter and again at 52-48 with 3:30 left.
And both times it was Shante Walker who came up big and swung the momentum back in her team’s favor.
First, she stuffed a shot by TaMiracle Taylor and then took the ball right down the floor and spotted up for a three pointer to push the lead back to seven at 46-39 followed by a driving layup to close out the quarter at 48-39.
Once again, after a Melanie De Oleo three pointer, one of four for her on the night cut it to 52-48, Shante took it right down the floor and again and drained another three to push it back to seven that eventually made it to 11 at 59-48 to close out any drama.
“You’ve just got to have the confidence that you can go out and do it and I’ve just gotten kind of used to it,” said Shante Walker. “Now we want to keep the momentum going into districts next week.”
SB (22-3): Walker 25, Ayulo 11, Leaks 10, Bell 6, McCain 4, March 2, Sadaka 2. FTL (20-3): Warthen 25, De Oleo 14, Taylor 13, Boyce 4. Three pointers: De Oleo 4, Warthen 3, Taylor 2, Walker 2, Ayulo 1. HALF: SB 30-20. SB – Rebounds, Walker 13, Assists, Leaks 5, Steals, Leaks 4