NAPLES, Fla. -- The final four of the Naples Holiday Shootout will feature three nationally ranked girls' high-school basketball teams, plus a fourth team that, while not currently ranked, has won four consecutive state championships.
In the first of the two elite match-ups, tipping off at 8 p.m. EST, Chicago powerhouse and No. 2-ranked Whitney Young will square off against Hathaway Brown, which isn’t ranked nationally, but has returned all of its state-championship starters from last year. Kentucky-commit Linnae Harper, who tallied 56 points in the first two games of the tournament, paces Whitney Young.
The second semifinal, slated to get underway at 9:30 p.m., pits No. 3 Science Hill against No. 19 North Gwinnett. The Bulldogs, who boast multiple scoring options starting with Maryland-bound Lexie Brown, are trying to prove they deserve to be top-10 team. To do so, they must get past Science Hill, which must win if it hopes to stay in the national conversation.
Let's take a look at today's action which set up Friday's high-octane showdowns.
Hathaway Brown 53, Edgewater 38
This quarterfinal match-up between two well-coached teams came down to execution. The team able to control the battle of the boards and execute on offense would win the game.
Hathaway Brown (Shaker Heights, Ohio) began separating themselves in the second period, holding Edgewater (Orlando, Fla.) scoreless for the first five minutes of the quarter and jumping ahead, 20-9, by the 3:03 mark. By the end of the first half, they had pushed the lead to 16.
South Florida-bound Trimaine McCullough worked hard to get the Eagles back in the game, scoring 13 of her game-high 18 points, including two three-pointers, in the second half to cut the lead to 10.
But over the course of the game, Hathaway Brown outrebounded Edgewater 37-27, limiting second shots by the Eagles who shot just 29 percent from the field for the game. The Blazers were lead by Princeton-bound Vanessa Smith who had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Nia Marshall added 14 points.
Whitney Young 54, Cardinal O’Hara 37
Whitney Young’s (Chicago, Ill.) Linnae Harper put up a game-high 30 points, but her defensive performance helped just as much in spearheading the Dolphins' advance past Cardinal O’Hara (Springfield, Penn.) and into the semifinals.
Harper led Whitney Young’s full-court press that disrupted the Lions' offense, forcing costly turnovers. With the game tied at 15 and 3:45 remaining in the second period, Harper sank a jumper, then picked off Cardinal O'Hara's inbounds pass and scored to put Whitney Young up, 19-15, a lead the Dolphins would never relinquish. (In addition to her firepower, Harper finished with four steals and four assists in the game.)
Whitney Young opened the second half with a 10-2 run, jumping out to a 35-19 lead. The Lions briefly whittled the lead back to eight at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the Dolphins surged back, outscoring the Lions 14-7 in the final frame for the 54-37 win.
Science Hill 40, Troy 33
For many this game was pegged as the match-up of the day, but it turned out to be a low-scoring disappointment with both teams shooting very poorly. Science Hill (Johnson City, Tenn.) had 30 turnovers in the game and Troy (Fullerton, Calif.) went one-for-11 from behind the arc while shooting a tepid 31 percent from the field.
After watching the lead change hands multiple times throughout the course of the game, it appeared for a while that the outcome would be decided by who had the ball last. However, with 2:04 left in the game, Science Hill senior Shy Copney drained a three-pointer from the wing to give the Hilltoppers the 35-33 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Troy went to a stalling offense, trying to play for the last shot, but Stanford-bound Briana Roberson, who had an off day, shooting just one-for-10 from the field, was called for the offensive foul, which gave the ball back to the Hilltoppers. Moments later, Tianna Tarter went baseline on a screen play and dropped in a floater, sealing the win for Science Hill.
|Tiana Tarter hits a runner in the final minute of the game to give Science Hill the win over Troy. (Photo by Kelly Kline)|
North Gwinnett 79, First Baptist Academy 28
Things were over before First Baptist Academy (Naples, Fla.) knew what hit them. North Gwinnett (Suwanee, Ga.) raced out to a 20-2 lead in the first four minutes and was up 53-9 at the half. Lexie Brown, ranked No. 13 in the Full Court Fresh 50, posted 22 of her game-high 27 points in the first half. Peyton Whitted registered 17 for North Gwinnett, and Baylee Rexing and Stephanie Amicha each added nine. The Lions, who hit five three-pointers in the game, were led by sophomore Emily Lines with 12 points.
Warren Easton 58, Dwyer 53
Warren Easton (New Orleans, La.) out-hustled Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) for the five-point win. Troya Biglow paced the Eagles with 14 points and Sabrina Banks added 10.
Tucker 71, Dreher 43
After falling to No. 2-ranked Whitney Young in the opening round, Tucker (Tucker, Ga.) found some redemption by defeating No. 10-ranked Dreher (Columbia, S.C.), 71-43, on Thursday. The scrappy Tigers forced Dreher into 32 turnovers and held the Blue Devils to 32-percent shooting from the field. Six-two center Erykah Davenport led Tucker with 21 points and nine rebounds, while twin sisters Naima and Nuba Jackson added 15 and 10 points, respectively. Kaydra Duckett paced Dreher with 18 points.
McDonogh 50, Center Pointe 22
McDonogh (Owing Mills, Md.) outrebounded Center Pointe (Birmingham, Ala.), 39-31, and forced 21 turnovers to breeze by the Eagles, 50-22. McDonogh guard Danielle Edwards poured in a game-high 25 points; Daja Logan added nine.
Marist 60, Barron Collier 23
Nearly everyone got into the act, as 10 of the 12 players on the Marist (Chicago, Ill.) roster scored en route to a 60-23 win over host school Barron Collier (Naples, Fla.) The Redhawks shot 51 percent from the field, while outrebounding the Cougars, 49-19. Je’Taun Rouse led the Redhawks with 14 points, while Leah Bolton added 12.
Beach Bash Division
Fort Myers 69, Island Coast 29
St. Thomas Aquinas 50, St. John Neumann 27
- Three-out-of-four top teams advance in the Naples Holiday Shootout
- Whitney Young headlines the Naples Holiday Shootout