ENGLEWOOD — A strong defensive effort and balanced scoring carried Lemon Bay to a 44-35 victory over North Fort Myers in a Class 7A-District 10 girls basketball quarterfinal Monday night.
Two weeks after dropping a game to the Red Knights on the same floor, the Manta Rays jumped out to a lead in the first quarter and never trailed the rest of the way. Kellie Redmann set the tone with steals on the Knights first two possessions and Lemon Bay led at the end of the first quarter, 10-3.
The Mantas had an 18-12 advantage at halftime, but the Knights scored the first three baskets of the third period to briefly tie the game at 18-18. A free throw by Kayleigh Foley gave the lead back to the Mantas, and a three-point play by Katelynn Ziarnicki keyed a 6-0 run that helped Lemon Bay take a 28-20 lead at the end of the quarter.
“I thought our defense was really good in the second half,” Lemon Bay coach Mike Young said. “I thought the kids were really dialed in and played hard.”
Foley came into the game in the third quarter when Abby Turner picked up her third foul.
“I’m really proud of Kayleigh Foley,” Young said. “She had one of her best games. She came off the bench and gave us five points and five rebounds. We didn’t miss a beat with her and Olivia Gibb in the post. Olivia didn’t get a lot of shots but she took advantage of the shots she got and she was a real focal point for us.”
Gibb had 11 points to lead the Mantas on 5-for-6 shooting.
“I feel like we just came in with a mindset that we need to win and it’s a tournament game,” Gibb said. “We changed up everything. We got more rebounds than them, we put our rebounds back and we didn’t give them second chances, especially in the second half. I feel like that turned around our entire momentum.”
“At this time the year, it comes down to who needs to take the shots, knowing how to take care of the basketball and being patient,” Young said. “Every time it went fast it led to a foul or a turnover and they got a breakaway. I had to call time out to settle them down a little bit and then the kids did a nice job of extending the lead in the third quarter.”
After a scoreless first half, Ziarnicki had 10 points in the second half, including a steal and 3-point play with 2:17 to go that gave Lemon Bay an 11-point lead and all but iced the game for the Mantas.
“She had some humongous and-ones in the second half to maintain the lead,” Young said. “For a freshman she’s done a great job. She’s learning how to continue playing when the three point shot isn’t falling. That was kind of a focal point for her at the beginning of the year. Now we’re trying to get her to drive the ball to the basket and get to the foul line. Her defense created her offense for her in the second half and that kind of got her going.”
“I think we were able to slow down our offense and run the plays we needed to run (after North Fort Myers tied the score),” Gibb said. “And switch into the defenses that we needed to switch into. We just executed what we needed to execute. I think that if we keep that up for Wednesday night we have a really good chance of moving on.”
Next up for the fourth-seeded Mantas (13-10) is a matchup with top-seeded Charlotte on Wednesday. The Knights concluded their season with a record of 12-13.
LEMON BAY 44, NORTH FORT MYERS 35
North Fort Myers 3 9 8 5 — 35
Lemon Bay 0 8 10 16 — 44
NORTH FORT MYERS: Quinones 10, Morgan 9, Casares 6, Mera 6, Murphy 4. Totals: 10(2), 13-16, 35
LEMON BAY: Gibb 11, Ziarnicki 10, Turner 9, Redmann 5, Foley 5, Chandler 2, Straub 2. Totals: 18, 8-13, 44