Region girls basketball: Tampa Catholic 65, Naples St. John Neumann 17
TAMPA – Tampa Catholic coach Matt Rocha put together a regular schedule that yielded few easy nights. The reason for having such a tough stretch of games was so the Crusaders would be prepared for anything – or anyone – they faced in the postseason.
Still, Rocha admitted to not knowing much about Thursday’s opponent in the Class 5A region quarterfinals. Naples St. John Neumann was a district runnerup. That is about all Rocha was certain of in his scouting report.
There was no game tape to be found on the Celtics. No analysis to go by from coaches in the Naples area.
It did not matter. The Crusaders had no trouble, beating St. John Neumann 65-17 in a game that had a running clock for almost the entire second half.
“We really didn’t know what to expect,” Rocha said. “We went into this game with the mentality that regardless of what happened we need to play our game and take care of business.”
Tampa Catholic (27-2), ranked eighth overall in the state by MaxPreps, had a double-digit lead early in the first quarter and kept adding to it. The Crusaders were scoring in every way imaginable – off easy layups in transition, on short jumpers and 3-pointers.
By halftime, Tampa Catholic had seven players who scored, all helping the Crusaders take a 43-13 lead.
The defense was just as strong, holding the Celtics to four points in the second half.
Five players – Alise Davis (13 points), Cheyenne Daphney (11), Lenise Santiago (11), Tanyia Gordon (10) and Ashley Sieper (10) – reached double figures in scoring for Tampa Catholic.
“It’s nice to be able to get everyone involved,” Rocha said. “In the playoffs, you have to have everyone.”