With different strengths this season, Northeast had to change its tactics from last year’s state runner-up team.
A girls’ basketball team dominant in the paint last season behind All-Broward 6-2 forward Ashley Saintigene, the Hurricanes had to become a more guard-oriented squad after she graduated.
“We had to change our system after last season and that’s why we struggled early on,” Northeast coach Zach Gillion said. “Game after game they battled and you could see them pick it up.”
Their progress was evident Tuesday night as five Northeast players scored in double figures to lead the Hurricanes to a 57-48 win over rival Dillard at the Panthers gym in a Region 4-7A semifinal.
Northeast (12-9) will travel to face Doral Academy Friday at 7 p.m. for a chance to make its second consecutive trip to the state final four.
Northeast, which lost twice in three previous meetings this season against Dillard (14-11), including the District 14-7A final, eliminated the Panthers in the regional semifinals for the second consecutive season. Dillard won a state championship five of the prior six seasons and has a Broward-best nine overall.
“The past two years it’s really become more of a rivalry between our programs now that it’s not only them beating us,” Gillion said.
Senior Kandis Taylor and junior Taniyah Pluviose each hit a pair of three-pointers in the second quarter to help Northeast build a 24-14 halftime lead. Dillard managed to pull within three points early in the fourth quarter by using its size advantage.
Junior Ayana Emmanuel and sophomore Raven White finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively, for Dillard.
But Northeast’s guards took control in the fourth quarter as Taylor and senior Isabella Lopez each made layups in transition, and Lopez hit a couple more clutch threes.
Lopez finished with 12 points and Taylor had a team-high 13. Lee, Pluviose and senior Takyla Austin each had 10 points.
Junior Dominique Fields finished with a game-high 14 points for Dillard.
NE (12-9): Lee 10, Taylor 13, Kearney 2, Austin 10, Pluviose 10, Lopez 12. DIL (14-11): Fields 14, Christia 2, Johnson 6, Grier 3, Emmanuel 11, Davis 2, White 10. Half: NE 24-14. Three-pointers: Taylor 2, Pluviose 2, Lopez 2, Fields 2.