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State girls basketball: FAMU sends AATL reeling again

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Wed. February 20, 2013 | Matt Baker | Email

State girls basketball: FAMU sends AATL reeling again

LAKELAND — There were no tears for Andrea Mauger this time.

Not when her Academy at the Lakes team suffered through 11 minutes without a field goal in Wednesday’s Class 2A state championship.

Not when the seconds drained away in a 57-34 loss to FAMU High at the Lakeland Center.

And not when she wore the first silver medal in school history after her team advanced one game farther than last year but still came up one victory short.

“We fought as hard as we could,” the senior forward said, “and that’s all I can ask.”

Unfortunately for the Wildcats (26-3), it ended in the same result as last year — a double-digit defeat to FAMU (26-4), which routed AATL by 21 points in the 2012 state semifinal to leave Mauger and her teammates in tears.

For the second year in a row, AATL couldn’t come up with answers to FAMU’s speed, especially against frenetic press and ferocious rebounders.

The Rattlers defense held AATL to the fewest points in a state title game in four years to bring a state title back to Tallahassee for the second straight  year and the third time since 2004.

The Wildcats had twice as many turnovers as they did buckets. They lost possession 24 times, including 12 in a field goal drought that began early in the second quarter and lasted 11:38.

AATL shot just 27 percent from the field, and FAMU blocked almost as many shots (eight) as the Wildcats made (10).

The Rattlers held AATL’s top shooter, Mauger, to six attempts and seven points. Senior post Tatiana Manuel scored at least 20 points in each of her four previous playoff games but mustered only 11 points and five boards Wednesday.

“They were skilled,” said senior guard Timecia Cohen, who finished with 10 points and 10 turnovers. “They knew what they were doing.”

That goes for offense and rebounding, too.

FAMU took control with a 21-6 run midway through the game. Rattlers freshman Jazmine Jones had a double double (17 points, 10 rebounds), and Aaliyah Barrington hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.

FAMU’s standout post, LaKaris Salter, continued a dominant career to lead all players with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

“She can really do it all,” Mauger said.

But to AATL coach Karim Nohra, the game changed on the glass.

FAMU doubled the Wildcats with 26 offensive boards and out-rebounded them overall 45-29. That led to easy putbacks for the Rattlers and an early deficit from which AATL couldn’t recover.

“If you look back, it was boards, boards, boards,” Nohra said after the first state title game in his storied career.

The senior-heavy Wildcats celebrated their silver medals because they were simply outplayed. They said they had never faced a team with the speed, skill and size of a Rattlers team that is becoming a powerhouse, with five trips to the state title game in the past 10 seasons.

“I think they just out-powered us tonight,” Mauger said.

Matt Baker can be reached at mbaker@tampabay.com or on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.

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