ST. PETERSBURG — For the past three seasons, Northside Christian has had winning records and advanced to the playoffs. But the Mustangs also have had premature exits, losing in the first round each time.
So to finally fill in the blanks on a glittering resume that lacked playoff glory, Northside Christian had to get past Fort Myers Canterbury.
The Mustangs got off to a quick start Thursday and held on for a 46-31 victory in a Class 2A region quarterfinal. It was the first postseason win for Northside coach D.J. Jackson.
“We’ve stayed with teams in the past in the playoffs, but we had some injuries or other things happen and were not able to get it done,” Jackson said. “I’m glad we finally got over that hump.”
The Mustangs (24-4) jumped to an 8-0 lead to start the game and were up 16-6 at the end of the first quarter. Still, Northside had trouble pulling away until midway through the third.
“Sometimes, we take a while to get going,” Jackson said. “We seem to find a way to let other teams stay in the game at times. Canterbury is scrappy, and we had to play 32 minutes.”
By converting turnovers into points, the Mustangs led 46-25 with two minutes remaining. Jackson put in some reserves, and Canterbury scored the last six points on layups. Haley Gossard and Deja Swinton each scored 12 points to lead Northside to its 16th straight win.
The Mustangs will play at Community School of Naples, which advanced to the state final four last season and beat Canterbury by 40 in the district final.
“It’ll be a tough game against Community School,” Jackson said. “But we’re looking forward to it.”