FORT MYERS — Amber Henson and her Sickles teammates team sought a benchmark for themselves, and Hollywood South Broward eagerly showed the Gryphons where they stood Wednesday night.
Led by a game-high 24 points from University of Miami-bound Krystal Saunders, 16 from junior Danielle Robinson and 10 from junior Kiara Shoats, the Bulldogs — rated eighth nationally by USA Today — rolled to a 58-41 victory for the Division II championship of the Dunbar Lady Tiger Invitational.
“Our goal coming down here was to see where we’re at, and we learned some things,” said Sickles coach Mark Key, whose squad got 19 points and eight rebounds from standout junior Amber Henson. “We’re just 30 days away from the beginning of districts and then regionals, so this experience will help get us ready as we think we have a chance to make a run at it (in Class 5A).”
The 48-team, six-division event consisted of six eight-team brackets.
Shoats and Robinson helped South Broward (12-0) race to a quick 18-4 lead, but Sickles rallied to trail by just six early in the second quarter. But then Saunders took over, sinking three 3-pointers in a four-minute span to push the margin to 11 by the half. The Bulldogs used a spread offense to extend their lead to 40-26 after three and never were threatened in the final period.
Sophomore Bre Crum added 12 points for Sickles, eight coming in the final period.
FORT LAUDERDALE CARDINAL GIBBONS 58, FREEDOM 54: Junior Shaunice Hobbs scored 16 and sophomore Shade Williams had 14, but it wasn’t enough as the Patriots (14-2) dropped a championship game in double overtime.
After trailing the entire game, Hobbs made a rebound basket late in the fourth quarter to force the first overtime and freshman Neena Pacholke sank a putback with 7.2 to seconds left in first extra period to force a second. But in the second OT, Gibbons senior Tianna-Hali Garcia scored six points, classmate Maggie Secada added two and Freedom was unable to make another comeback.
STUART MARTIN COUNTY 63, TBT 57: Junior Dasia Daniels and sophomore DaSha Christopher hit back-to-back baskets to force overtime, but the Titans (12-2) couldn’t keep the momentum going in the extra period and lost in a championship game.
Daniels paced TBT with 22 points, while Jasmine Rodriguez added nine points.
FORT MYERS CYPRESS LAKE 29, BLAKE 25: Standout freshman Erica Young scored just two points in two-plus quarters before leaving with an ankle injury, and the Yellow Jackets fell in a fifth-place game.
Freshman Bryse Patton led Blake (9-5) with six points in a game played at a deliberate pace.
LAKEWOOD 55, NAPLES GULF COAST 37: Senior Jenae Wilson scored 12 to help the Spartans (10-3) claim seventh place.
Junior Kayla Roberts and freshmen Kasey Drayton and Tianah Alvarado each added 11 for Lakewood, which raced to a 30-16 halftime lead and never trailed after the break.
“It feels good to get one,” Spartans coach Necole Tunsil said. “To be 1-2 in a quality tournament such as this, we’ll be fine.”
PEMBROKE PINES FLANAGAN 62, JEFFERSON 53: Sophomore Shayla Upshaw scored 14 to lead three players in double figures, but it was not enough as the Dragons (12-3) dropped their third consecutive game to place eighth.
Sophomore Shayla Wilson added 12 points and senior Jade Givens had 10 for Jefferson in a game where three of its players fouled out and three fourth-quarter technicals were called. Flanagan hit 16-of-26 free throws in the final period.
Pat McKee, Special to the Times