CLEARWATER — Clearwater point guard Veronica Ryan might not have the gaudy statistics of teammates J'Beria Davis and Artajah Collins. But the junior might be the most underrated component of the Tornadoes' success this season.
Against Palm Harbor University in the 5A-9 district final, Ryan guarded PHU leading scorer Sharee Booze tightly all night, holding Booze to five points, 13 below her season average, in a 57-28 runaway victory.
"Veronica just makes us go," Clearwater coach Tom Shaneyfelt said. "She does so many little things that you just don't even maybe see or notice. She handles the ball. She handles pressure. She makes good decisions. She's like a second coach on the floor."
With Ryan running the show, Clearwater (25-2) opened a double-digit lead (14-4) by the one-minute mark in the first quarter. Ryan, who had 14 total points, drained a 3-pointer early in the second to put the Tornadoes ahead 24-8.
"She's the best point guard around, I think," Shaneyfelt said. "I'm a little biased obviously, but she's phenomenal."
PHU (14-12) went on an 8-0 run before the half to stay within striking distance at the break (28-16), but Clearwater pushed the advantage to 18 by the end of the third quarter.
"I thought we played a great defensive game tonight," Ryan said. "Offensively, though, we couldn't finish anything."
Davis had a game-high 23 points, and Collins added eight for Clearwater, which won its 13th straight district champion and 19th overall.
PHU freshman Kristin Fuller and senior Jasmine Whiting each had six points.