District girls basketball: Durant 61, Tampa Bay Tech 46
TAMPA – Durant’s girls basketball team rushed to the end of its bench for it’s postgame circle after claiming the Class 8A, District 9 title by defeating Tampa Bay Tech 61-46. The game was in the Cougars' control throughout, but the team’s leading scorer, Ashlyn Myers, watched most of the second half on the bench after an awkward landing, and a right knee injury forced the junior from the game.
Instead of letting things slip away, the other Durant (18-3) players stepped up and finished strong as the Cougars claimed their first district title in more than a decade and surrounded the seated Myers in the postgame celebration.
“We know as a team, we can’t always depend on Ashlyn all the time,” Ashanti McDaniel said. “Instead of feeling bad for ourselves there, we played the game for her and we made sure we won a district title and now she has a chance to get back with us.”
McDaniel, a freshman, stepped up in the second half, scoring 10 of her total 16 points in the final two quarters.
“Ashanti is so fast, with quick hands, and is quick to the basket,” Durant coach Al Mitchell said.” “We really look to her to be the future of this team.”
Myers added 16 points before leaving with just under six minutes left in the third. After the game, Mitchell said they were unsure about the severity of Myers' injury, but spoke to the junior’s toughness.
“No matter what, Ashlyn is going to work hard to recover and get back to her team,” Mitchell said. “That’s the kind of player she is.”
The Cougars also had some good shooting from the outside as Casey Decatur (nine points) had a trio of 3-pointers and Alexandra Louden (11 points) added a pair of her own, including a buzzer-beater to end the third.
On defense the Cougars got a solid performance from senior captain Tamara Hanson, who worked well on the Titans’ shooters from the perimeter.
“She was very aggressive flying to the ball tonight,” Mitchell said of Hanson. “She had her hands out, her close out was so impressive, and she handled herself very well for us.”
Tampa Bay Tech (15-13) was a physical challenge for the Cougars and certainly gave away nothing easily. The Titans were imposing in the rebound department, especially under their own basket, but struggled to make those second chances work or capitalize on their late takeaways.
Titans junior center Janae Thomas was a big part of the work under the basket with 12 rebounds and was also the game's leading scorer with 19 points, while Shannon Lise chipped in 10 points as well.