LAND O’LAKES — In the most lopsided game in Academy at the Lakes history, the primary focus in the nightcap of the Class 2A, District 8 semifinals was on Tatiana Manuel’s pursuit of the 1,000-point barrier.
The senior forward scored a game-high 22 Tuesday in a 64-2 win over Tampa Bay Christian to come within 12 of the mark. Manuel’s milestone will likely be reached Friday night when the Wildcats host Cambridge Christian, a 27-18 winner over Hernando Christian, in the championship game.
“All my years in high school I’ve never been to the playoffs,” said Manuel, who also played at Brooks-DeBartolo and Blake. “And I’m close to 1,000 points, so I’m very happy.”
Timecia Cohen added 14 for two-time district champion Academy at the Lakes, a state semifinalist last season.
The Wildcats (21-2) were never challenged despite missing standouts Andrea Mauger (ankle) and Luz Santiago (wrist). Still, coach Karim Nohra did not let up on his players.
“What I was looking for is do the things I taught you and do it right,” he said. “Maybe it won’t matter in this game, but it will in the next one.”
Rams coach Rachel Weaver, who played for Nohra at Tampa Catholic in the 2000-01 season, was not surprised at her former coach pushing his team regardless of the score.
“He doesn’t let up and that’s why they’re as good as they are,” she said.
The lone basket for the Rams (0-11) came with less than five minutes remaining on a Shakera Thomas bank shot in the lane.
In the first game, Cambridge Christian took a 13-2 lead and cruised. Hernando Christian pulled within 15-10 on an 8-2 run, but never got closer. The Lancers were led by Natalie Fernandez and Lilly Dunaj, who each scored six points.