Nease, Bartram Trail advance to SJRAC girls basketball semifinals

Menendez held Nease to its lowest scoring night of the season. The problem for the Falcons was Nease did the same.

 

Nease held Menendez (13-6) to two field goals en route to a 43-9 win Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the St. Johns River Athletic Conference girls basketball tournament at St. Augustine High.

 Nease (18-3) advanced to Thursday’s semifinal where it will face Bartram Trail (12-8). Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at St. Augustine.

Camille Hobby recorded her 10th double-double of the season with a game-high 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Hobby’s presence in the interior was too much for the undersized Falcons. To compete, Menendez attempted to take the air out of the ball by dribbling around the perimeter and stalling for extended periods.

“It’s not basketball. We figure out what we need to do best,” said Nease guard Karissa Niles. “We listen to our coaches and do whatever they say.”

 Nease resisted the urge to foul the Falcons. Instead, the Panthers waited at the edge of the perimeter and pounced when the opportunity came. Despite the slower pace, Nease forced 13 steals. Niles was part of the pilfering process, finishing with eight points, two assists and two steals.

“We want to see everything we can before the playoffs,” Nease coach Sherri Anthony said. “I told them it was a blessing. I don’t want it for a whole game because people paid their money for a basketball game and not keep-away. It was a great experience for the kids because they learned how to play in those situations and playing disciplined defense.”

Nease shot 61 percent from the field (16 of 26) to win its sixth straight game. Tuesday’s win means the Panthers are the queens of St. Johns County as they have beaten every other public school in the county. Their average margin of victory in those six contests was 32.8 points.

Bartram Trail 53

St. Augustine 42

St. Augustine threatened repeatedly in the second half, but never cut its deficit to fewer than six points. Whenever, the Yellow Jackets (12-7) got within striking distance they self-destructed in the second quarterfinal game Tuesday night at St. Augustine.

“I know we missed over 20 layups,” lamented St. Augustine coach Eric Hancock. “I don’t think we made our free throws. Every time we got it close, we let them shoot a wide-open (3-pointer). They moved the ball too well. We don’t move our feet.”

Bartram Trail made seven 3-pointers. Senior point guard Reedy Davenport made a trio of them, including a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter. Davenport’s jumper from the wing gave the Bears the lead for good at 12-9.

“We stayed in it because communication is a big thing on defense, especially when we are in zone,” said Bartram Trail senior forward Grace Tybor. “When there is pressure, it’s important to keep communicating with each other, so we don’t fall apart, (we) know where the ball is and don’t allow open shots.

Tybor finished with four points. Freshman guard Bella Weary led the Bears with 14 points. Davenport finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals. St. Augustine’s Brianna Green scored 21 points in a losing effort.

The conference shifted to a new format this season, eschewing a one-game pairing for an eight-team tournament. Middleburg beat Orange Park 50-42 and No. 1 seed Fleming Island beat Palatka 66-23 in the other quarterfinals held at Middleburg High on Tuesday. St. Augustine will host Menendez in the consolation bracket Thursday at 6 p.m.

Tybor has found the revised format fun.

 “Any tournament is fun, because it’s more competitive,” Tybor said. “(It’s fun) to know if you win you go farther.”

 

 

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