District girls basketball: Tampa Catholic 54, Brooks DeBartolo 34
TAMPA — Alise Davis turned and looked at the banners hanging in the Tampa Catholic gym. The one for a district championship in 2016 is missing.
Davis made sure Brooks DeBartolo wouldn't be taking the Class 5A, District 9 title again as top-seeded Tampa Catholic rolled to a 54-34 victory Saturday night.
Davis, Tampa Catholic's 6-foot senior, dominated inside with 24 points, intimidated any Brooks DeBartolo shooter in the lane, and sparked a second-quarter surge to help the Crusaders (25-2) overcome a 10-9 deficit nine minutes into the game. Third-seeded Brooks DeBartolo (18-11) defeated Tampa Catholic 60-51 in last year's district finale, but Davis was determined history would not repeat itself.
"I said from the get-go, 'Don't let (Brooks DeBartolo) outhustle me,' '' said Davis, a Coastal Carolina commit. "I wanted to win this game terribly bad. Every year (that I've been here), except last year, we won district. We took it back this year.''
Brooks DeBartolo held an 8-5 lead late in the first quarter, and a one-point edge early in the second when Tampa Catholic took control. The Crusaders scored 13 of the next 16 points — nine by Davis — and the Phoenix never got closer than five after that. Brooks DeBartolo made its last push in the third quarter to pull within 27-21, but Tampa Catholic scored 10 unanswered points to beat the Phoenix by double digits for the third time this year.
"We definitely tried to be more deliberate with the basketball and use our size advantage on them,'' Tampa Catholic coach Matthew Rocha said. "(Brooks DeBartolo) is a good team. . . . They're athletic and they get after the ball. We figured we needed to try to get (the ball) into the bigs and use our size.''
Tampa Catholic made 53 percent of its field-goal attempts on 23 of 43 shooting. All nine of Davis' field goals were layups as the Crusaders finished with 19 baskets from within 5 feet. Brooks DeBartolo shot only 31 percent.
"I can overpower (Brooks DeBartolo),'' Davis said. "I'm stronger than their whole team put together, so you've got to use your tools that you have. . . and that's what I did.
"We realized that if we swing the ball and get it inside, we have the bigger advantage. Once all of our point guards — Taylor Butler, Tanyia Gordon (14 points) and Lenise Santiago — realized that, that's when they made the difference.''
Alyssa Nieves scored 12 points for Brooks DeBartolo, but only two after halftime.
"We knew that we couldn't take anything for granted coming in, and Alyssa can get hot,'' Rocha said. "I'm really proud of how the girls played.
"Winning the district championship in our house in Alise's senior year, along with Cheyenne Daphney, means a lot to me. It means a lot to them, too.''