BROOKSVILLE — The teams many considered the top contenders for the title in this week’s Hernando Holiday Classic squared off in the first round Tuesday night, but Central came away disappointed in the opening result.
The Bears were pitted against Ravenwood to open the tournament and fell 71-44 to the program from Brentwood, Tenn.
Central (9-4) had difficulty with the Raptors (10-3) from the tip-off, falling behind 12-2. Things only got worse when the Bears’ top weapon, Raqurra Ishmar, picked up three fouls in the first quarter and was forced to the bench. She missed the second quarter as Ravenwood opened up a 20-point halftime lead.
By the time Ishmar returned she had her hands full. The 17 points and 16 rebounds she put up weren’t enough to bring the Bears back into it.
“We’re not going to make any excuses,” Central coach Penny Gressick said. “The effort wasn’t there. We struggled on the offensive end, and we struggled on the defensive end.”
Ravenwood was led by its own post presence as forward Erin Lauderdale gave Central fits on defense. She not only was able rebound well, but she stretched Bears’ defense, knocking down three 3-pointers on the way to 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
As for the Central, the night wasn’t an entire loss. Even though the team stretched its slump to three games, Ishmar and point guard McKenzie Burns eclipsed a major milestone. The senior forward has 1,013 points for her career while Burns, with her 12 for the game, has 1,003.
“We just lost three games in a row,” Gressick said. “It’s time for us to fight ourselves through this.”
Earlier, Lake Wales defeated Nature Coast 35-31 to eliminate the Sharks. McKeel Academy downed South Lake 48-40 to advance to today’s semifinals. Hernando, the host of the tournament, had a bye and will face Lake Wales in the semifinals.