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NEW PORT RICHEY — The tape around her injured right hand didn’t stop Gulf’s Kayla Kivinski from getting to the free-throw line, a place where she continues to excel. Kivinski made nine straight foul shots, part of a 22-point game Friday night as the host Bucs defeated Fivay 65-45.
With the win Gulf (8-3, 5-1) kept its comfortable margin for second place, and stayed one game behind Pasco in Class 5A-8. Fivay (5-5, 3-4) was one of four teams entering Friday with three district losses and hoped to close the gap.
But Kivinski and Jalena Hawkins, who combined to go 17-for-21 at the foul line, wouldn’t let it happen. Hawkins scored 16.
Kivinski is making better than 90 percent of her free throws. She jammed a finger late in Thursday’s victory over Sunlake and it was heavily taped for Friday’s game. After attempting only one free throw in the first half she went 9-for-10 as Gulf began to roll.
“Getting to the line is all about being aggressive,” said Kivinski, who scored right on her average.
Hawkins was scoring only six points a night before going for 19 against Sunlake. She had the first five points of the second half Friday, giving her team a 36-23 lead. Fivay never got the margin back to single digits.
It was not for lack of effort on Alicia Artley’s part. The 6-foot-1 junior had 25 points and 16 rebounds for Fivay, including eight on the offensive glass in the second half. After being outrebounded 21-11 in the first half, the Falcons went on to claim 14 on the offensive end alone — but they made just eight of their 30 field-goal attempts in the final two periods.
“Fivay is a respectable team and they made a run,” said Gulf coach Clare Ennis. “But we fixed some mistakes, played great defense. And the free-throw shooting is something we practice repeatedly. We spend a lot of time on the mental part of the game.”
Kivinski added a team-high 10 rebounds. Lyndsey Hetrick scored 11 and grabbed nine rebounds, while center Tatiana Summers tossed in nine points for the Bucs.
Gulf led 7-0 and Fivay didn’t get its first field goal until 1:55 of the first quarter, but the Falcons heated up behind Brandi Sutphin, who had six points and two assists in the second quarter as Fivay closed within 20-18.
But the Bucs answered with a 6-0 run, and Kivinski’s 3 — the only one of the night for either team — made it 29-20 and Gulf was up by eight at the break.
Meghan Tate had nine points and five assists for Fivay.