TAMPA — One month to the day after defeating Tampa Bay Christian by a point, Cambridge Christian entered Tuesday’s sequel a bit short-handed.
The Rams (12-1), by contrast, were anything but short.
Behind 6-foot-9 Rwanda-born junior Dan Manzi (17 points), 6-6 Bahama native Majrle Ingraham (21) and 6-5 sophomore Bryant Searcy (18), the ninth-ranked Rams overwhelmed the No. 8 Lancers 86-65.
Cambridge (15-3), a 53-52 winner on Dec. 15, was missing at least two key players including all-state senior Brandon Park. But coach Jay Bowen refused to discuss their absences or use them as excuses.
“They played well, they just beat us tonight,” said Bowen, whose team could meet the Rams a third time in the Class 2A, District 8 tournament. “They’re a good ball club and they just beat us.”
Overwhelming in the interior, the Rams never trailed, and scored 19 consecutive points in one stretch between the second and third periods to seal things.
Cambridge found itself further hindered when 6-7 sophomore Nacarious Burgess picked up two fouls in the game’s first five minutes. The Lancers cut their deficit to 36-30 late in the first half on consecutive 3-pointers by senior Curtis Walls (22 points), but TBC ended the half with a 10-0 run.
The Rams then scored the second half’s first nine points. Ingraham scored nine during that 19-0 spurt.
“We made some mistakes that hurt us and they won a heck of a ball game (in the first meeting),” said Rams coach and NBA alumnus Jerry “Ice” Reynolds, who took over the team in midseason.
“They’re a great team and you can’t make mistakes against great teams. That was my message before the game today. We had to take away the mistakes and we did that. We played well and we came away with a huge win.”
Six-foot-8 Rwandan David Nsengiyumva scored eight second-half points in his debut for TBC, which annually welcomes international students with education visas.
Even the more vertically challenged players indulged offensively, with 6-1 senior Lynrick Moxey scoring 17.