When Venice sophomore Ellie DiGiacomo swished a two pointer in the opening minute of the second half of the Indians’ first-round game at the Chick-Fil-A Basketball Classic on Thursday night, she made the clock operator’s job a lot easier.

At that point, Venice took a 40-5 lead, initiating a running clock that remained in force for the rest of the game. The Lady Indians went on to score a 54-24 win over the Bayshore Bruins at Bradenton Christian School.

“I feel like tonight gave us a lot of confidence going into (Friday) night’s game,” said senior Janelle Colombo. “We all believe now we can go out and play well enough to win.”

A big plus for the Lady Indians was that all 10 players on their roster scored at least one bucket. Miranda Hoffer led the way with 14 points. Sophomore Liv Sleight added nine points and DiGiacomo chipped in with a pair of 3-pointers.

Hoffer scored all of her points in the first half and watched the final 16 minutes play out from the bench.

“We’ve really been waiting for a game like this and we really needed it,” said Hoffer. “Everyone was involved and played a part, and that’s great for the team.”

While Venice was hitting shots with regularity, it also proved to be a force on defense. In fact, the Indians shut out the Bruins over the opening 9:04 of the game.

They smothered the Bruins with a strong press throughout the opening half. Before the Bruins’ Gege Ocean scored Bayshore’s first bucket, Venice had established an 18-0 lead.

Hoffer opened the scoring 23 seconds into the game and a steady stream of points followed. By the end of the first eight minutes, Venice was up 15-0. Sophomore Rachel Weekes drained the Indians’ first trey early in the second quarter to put an exclamation point on the opening run.

“We’re a pretty good team and I think our struggles up to now have been a product of the good teams we have been playing,” said Indians’ head coach Joel Holloway. “The pressure was working tonight and we hit some shots. Once you hit a few shots, the confidence starts building. Tonight it lasted all game.”

Once DiGiacomo set the clock in permanent motion, Venice had all but sewed up the game. Its largest lead was 39 points in the third quarter. The Bruins fared better over the final 16 minutes, but Venice already had them in an impossible position.

Tyana Romo heated up the Bayshore offense over the final two quarters. She scored 13 of her game-high 16 points in the second half. Only eight other points, by three different players, were scored by the Bruins.

“I feel like once we got started, we just kept on going,” said senior Nicole Ambrosio. “This was a game we needed.”

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