Beating your district rival three times in one season is tough enough. But four times? And then five?
That was the task in front of the South Broward girls’ basketball team when the Bulldogs played host to Nova in a Region 4-8A semifinal on Tuesday night.
Thanks to great efforts by Shante Walker and Tianna Ayulo mission accomplished. Walker and Ayulo not only combined for 33 points (17 and 16, respectively) but also led the way under the boards with 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively, as South Broward came away with a 61-48 victory.
The Bulldogs (24-3) will host Fort Lauderdale in a regional final on Friday at 7 p.m. in a rematch of not only last year’s regional final but the BCAA championship game played two weeks ago, with South Broward winning both times.
South Broward, which has a total of six state titles, including four in a row from 2000-03 and the last coming in 2008, will be looking for a return trip to Lakeland where it lost in last year’s state semifinals.
“I just told the girls before the game that it wouldn’t necessarily be about skill tonight but will,” South Broward coach Richard Walker said. “The team that wanted it the most would find a way to get it and credit my girls for finding a way to beat this team again because Nova is an awfully good team. Shante and Tianna? They gave me what you would expect from two seniors, a great effort.”
All four of the Bulldogs wins (two regular season, one BCAA semifinal and one district final) all came by single digits. But on this night, they broke out to a 19-9 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back. Twice they led by as much as 18, the last at 47-29 early in the fourth and Nova never got the deficit to single digits.
Rikiah Cowart led the way for Nova (20-7) with 19 points, but what killed the Titans all night was their cold shooting from beyond the arc. A team that relies heavily on three-pointers, Nova missed 17 consecutive threes before Gabi Gonzalez finally got one to drop with 35 seconds left.
“It’s not easy beating a team five times, but we just pushed ourselves in practice and stayed determined,” Ayulo said. “Now we want to keep it going on Friday and get back to Lakeland.”
SB (24-3): Walker 17, Ayulo 16, Leaks 11, Sadaka 7, Bell 7, McCain 2, Thomas 1. NOVA (20-7): Cowart 19, Gutierrez 14, Gonzalez 9, Massop 3, Howard 1. 3 pointers: Sadaka, Gonzalez. HALF: SB 26-13. SB: Rebounds, Walker 11. Assists: Walker 4, Steals: Ayulo 3
▪ Region 3-9A semifinal — Deerfield Beach 55, Douglas 48: Abigail Hsu scored a game-high 23 points to lead Douglas to a victory over Deerfield Beach in a Class 9A regional semifinal in Parkland.
The Eagles (26-2), who defeated the Bucks four consecutive times, advanced to the regional final on Friday where they will host the winner of the Palm Beach Gardens/Boca Raton game.
It’s also the first time Douglas has advanced to a regional final game since 1994. The Eagles had defeated the Bucks (22-8) by an average of 16 points each of the past three meetings.
“I think if you would have asked us at the beginning of the year if this is where we would be I don’t think anyone who have believed it,” Douglas coach Marilyn Rule said. “These kids have shown so much maturity for their age.”
Douglas took the lead in the second quarter on Hsu’s eight points, that included a pair of three-pointers.
The Douglas defense forced Deerfield into making many poor shot selections that allowed the Eagles to maintain their lead.
The Eagles led by as many as 10 points in the second half, but the Bucks could never get any closer than four of the lead.
DB (22-8): Burrows 6-0-15, Swinton 5-0-10, Pierce 3-0-6, Shell 2-0-4, Mitchell 1-0-2, Schuck 3-1-8, Dervil 1-0-2. D (26-2): Murphy 6-1-15, Hsu 7-7-23, Baldaramma 0-1-1, Thompson, Williams 2-3-8, Crawford 1-0-2, Nunez 2-0-4. Three-pointers: Murphy, Hsu 2, Williams, Burrows 3, Schuck. Half; 31-26.
▪ Region 4-9A Semifinal — Miami High 41, Flanagan 33: Fleet footed Flanagan couldn’t pivot away from menacing Miami High in the Stings’ victory.
A game featuring more than 50 combined turnovers appeared to be on fast-forward mode from the tip-off. But the Stings finally anchored with Colleen Bucknor to close out the first half and carry it into a Region 4-9A final rematch Friday against Ferguson.
“It was very fast,” said Bucknor, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds in the win. “They weren’t slowing down. You just have to have pace yourself and set it at a fast pace. You just have to play fast. I just wanted to keep a high intensity.”
After a 6-6 first quarter, the Stings (19-7) trailed late in the second quarter. Bucknor ended the first half with six unanswered points and the Stings carried a 13-0 run into the third frame.
Tharalee Mompelas led Flanagan (22-5) with 10 points. Jennifer Rodriguez and Jeannie Scott each scored nine points for the Stings.
MIA: Bucknor 14, J. Rodriguez 9, Scott 9, Rachel 4, Wilson 4, Whitley 1; FLA: Mompelas 10, Lubin 9, Sharpe 7, Theodule 4, Richards 3. Three-pointers: Scott 2. Half: Miami 15-14.
▪ Region 4-9A semifinal — Ferguson 67, Lourdes 51: The Ferguson Falcons girls’ basketball team defeated Lourdes for the fourth time this season to advance to their fourth consecutive regional final appearance.
A trio of Falcons (23-7) powered the winning effort, led by small forward Sheslanie Laureano’s 22 points, 18 of them coming from six three-pointers. Forward Angelee Rodriguez posted a double-double, scoring 19 points and snatching 10 rebounds, while guard Natalia Pineda added 17 points.
Ferguson will take on Miami High in the regional final for the fourth consecutive year. The Falcons finally beat the Stingarees in last year’s final to advance to the state tournament for the first time.
“It’s not easy to beat any team four times, especially a team like Lourdes,” said Ferguson coach Gabriel Lazo. “We were winless just a few years ago and a lot of work and time has helped us get here.”
From the very start the Falcons defense set the tone, snuffing out the Bobcats with a backcourt press that forced a barrage of turnovers and miscues. Ferguson point guard Yaire Rodriguez snagged a game-high seven steals for the Falcons.
The Bobcats (20-8) were unable to attain the lead at any point during the contest, falling behind by as many as 26 points at one point in the third quarter.
Valerie Sanchez scored 16 points while Madison Porras added 15 points in the losing effort for Lourdes.
FER (23-7): Laureano 22, A. Rodriguez 19, Pineda 17, Y. Rodriguez 4, Abdala 3, Gonzalez 2. LOU: Porras 16, Sanchez 15, Codispoti 7, Ju Vazquez 5, Jo Vasquez 2, Midolo 2, Pagliery 2, Paniagua 2. HT: FER 39-23. Three pointers: Laureano 6, Pineda 2, Abdala 1. Assists: Y. Rodriguez 10, Pineda 8. Rebounds: A. Rodriguez 10, Gonzalez 7. Steals: Y. Rodriguez 7, Laureano 2, Pineda 2. Blocks: A. Rodriguez 2, Pineda 2.
▪ Region 4-5A Semifinal — Gulliver 58, Keys Gate 40: Gulliver (21-11) won a rematch against Keys Gate (23-4) after losing to losing to the Knights in the district championship game.
“They always play us hard. W e must have played Keys Gate 15 times in the last five years,” coach John Zalbot said. “The girls were really upset they lost districts and were on a mission [Tuesday].”
The Raiders were led by junior guard Alana Pinder with 19 points, and she also made three three-pointers.
GUL: Rachel Kalser 6, Kendall Haymore 2, Alana Pinder 19, Shannon Kunkel 12, Mikayla Thomas 16, Leah Boyd 3. KG: Valentina Klinar 9, Yesenia Velez 11, Angela Denis 8, Kelsha Jones 4, Kiana Moore 8.
▪ Region 4-4A Final — SLAM Academy 53, Palmer Trinity 37: A strong start for SLAM Academy led to a strong finish as it ousted Palmer Trinity to advance to their first Class 4A final four.
Led by impressive freshman Marta Franco, who had 17 points, the Titans quickly attained and kept a double-digit lead for a majority of the game.
“The girls did everything we needed them to do,” coach Michelle Smith said. “They executed our game plan to perfection.”
SLAM will face Jacksonville Providence in the state semifinals on Wednesday, Feb. 22.