Region girls basketball: Robinson 49, Lake Wales 33
TAMPA — As Robinson took its home floor for warmups Thursday, with Rae Sremmurd's hit Swang crackling through a pair of courtside speakers, it did so with laser-like focus.
The Knights went through their various shooting drills without distraction and hardly a word spoken. This Class 6A region quarterfinal was far too important, especially after seeing their season end here the past two years.
When play began, Robinson's pregame mentality carried over. And soon enough, Lake Wales became just another victim as the Knights advanced with a 49-33 victory — its 13th straight dating to Dec. 28.
"I definitely wanted to come out and get on them in the beginning of the game," Robinson coach Stephanie Sweeney said. "But I think our energy, especially on the bench, and on the court really lasted throughout the entire game, and the girls stuck together."
The Knights (22-3) never trailed after the opening minutes, capitalizing on a comedy of mistakes and giveaways by the Highlanders. By halftime, Robinson had surged with a pair of 8-0 and 11-0 runs to take a 32-17 lead.
Things didn't get any better for Lake Wales (19-8) in the second half. Five seconds into the third quarter, a whistle for traveling exasperated coach Demetrius Sanders so much that all he could do was turn his back to the court and stare at a large stack of wooden bleachers behind him.
A double dribble moments later had Sanders mimicking the official's hand gesture in frustration before taking a seat on the bench and resting his palm beneath his chin.
It wasn't much rosier for Robinson, however. The Knights were held scoreless for nearly five minutes before sophomore guard Kaliah Henderson (game-high 26 points) finally broke the lapse.
"Nothing was falling for us," Sweeney said. "We couldn't make a layup. We missed probably four layups in a row and we couldn't get that spark. ... But we trusted our defense and it produced offense eventually."
Back on track, the Knights cruised from there. And if this undefeated calendar year is any indication, they might not be slowing any time soon.
"I'm telling you, I've got a special group of girls," Sweeney said. "A real special group of girls."