FORT MYERS — The Academy of the Holy Names was the unquestioned underdog heading into Friday's Class 4A, Region 3 final at powerful Fort Myers Dunbar.
For the first 10 minutes, the Jaguars pushed the Tigers, widely regarded as one of the best teams in the state, to the limit, thanks to lights-out shooting by senior guard Ashley McWilliams.
But Dunbar's depth, superior size and relentless pressure proved too much to overcome for Holy Names, which ended its season with a 72-45 loss.
"We knew it was going to be tough," Jaguars coach Chris Severini said. "It was really important for us to try to control the tempo. We've been dealing with a size disadvantage all year. We were trying to minimize their points in the paint as much as possible. But we knew they'd get their opportunities because of their size and athleticism."
McWilliams, who finished with a game-high 27 points, scored the first 10 of the game for Holy Names (22-9), which trailed 14-12 after one quarter.
"She is a tough kid," Dunbar coach Dwayne Donnell said of McWilliams. "We were throwing everything at her but she kept making plays."
But with 6-foot junior Colleen Dougherty on the bench in foul trouble, the Tigers (28-1) began working the ball inside to 5-foot-9 junior Regine Cooper and 6-foot sophomore Respect Leaphart, The pair combined for 13 second-quarter points as Dunbar built a 31-22 halftime lead.
Meanwhile, Holy Names, which finished with 31 turnovers, couldn't get its offense on track. A five-minute scoring drought by the Jaguars in the third quarter allowed Dunbar to build a 19-point advantage and take firm control of the game.
"They're supposed to have this kind of feeling right now," said Severini, whose team will graduate three seniors, including McWilliams. "That what drives you to want to get back to this same position next year. That's our goal."