Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A region basketball: Trinity Christian 59, Academy at the Lakes 30

LAND O'LAKES — For a fleeting moment in the first quarter, the faithful who crammed into Academy at the Lakes' gym, hoping to see if the upstart Wildcats could continue their unlikely run through the postseason, dared to think about the impossible.

The Wildcats kept region final opponent Trinity Christian Academy off the scoreboard for more than four minutes and multiple possessions to start the game. Marjorie Rivera drove the lane for a layup, Andrea Mauger drained an open look from 3-point range and the intimate setting inside the tiny gym suddenly turned frenzied.

Trinity Christian, three years removed from a Class A state championship and a participant in the semifinals a year ago, wasn't quite so superhuman, it seemed. The Warriors had weaknesses. The Wildcats were finding them. And their fans, sensing a miracle, were excited.

Unfortunately for Academy at the Lakes, it too had a number of shortcomings, and they were all exposed by a veteran Trinity Christian team in a 59-30 runaway win.

The Warriors (21-4) used their decided size advantage to outrebound the Wildcats 51 to 32. The Warriors' superior athleticism forced Academy into 30 turnovers. And an 8-0 run to end the first half followed by a 20-2 scoring margin in the third quarter signaled the end for Academy (19-5).

"It was women playing against girls, for the most part," AATL coach Karim Nohra said. "It showed, and it shows clearly when you're outmuscled on the boards."

Initially, the Wildcats defense forced Trinity Christian into tough shots. But all too often, the Warriors were waiting under the basket for several followup attempts before finally converting. Crystal Connors alone had 20 rebounds for the Warriors, and she added 15 points, mostly on put backs.

Trinity Catholic led 10-7 after the first quarter and opened a 14-10 advantage before Alex Gittens and Alexis Holler made consecutive field goals to tie it up.

Then the game turned bizarre, as Trinity Christian coach Luke McCray called for his star forward Danielle McCray, a Mississippi signee, to hold the ball near half court. Nohra kept his defense back, settled behind the 3-point line, and for two minutes, 41 seconds, McCray (game-high 17 points) stood like a statue, moving only once to wipe some perspiration off the ball with her shorts.

The stall tactic worked, though. The Warriors scored the next four baskets to go into halftime ahead 22-14 and dominated the second half.

"They were real hype, so I just stalled the ball so they can get back focus," Luke McCray said. "Then you see after we stalled them, and they started back playing, it was a whole different game."

The Warriors outscored the Wildcats 20-2 in the third quarter for a 42-16 lead going into the final quarter.

"We got sloppy and turned the ball over more than we should have," Nohra said. "Most of their points in that spurt was transition points. That's where they got their points."

Nohra, 0-for-7 in region finals, said he has never been more proud of one of his teams. Last season, the Wildcats were 0-15.

"I told them, 'You have made school history. Nobody can take that away from you. Nobody expected you to be here in the elite eight, are you kidding me?' "

A region basketball: Trinity Christian 59, Academy at the Lakes 30 02/19/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 19, 2011 10:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. HomeTeam 25: Football rankings for Tampa Bay


    1. Armwood (7-0)

    Up next: vs. Brandon

    Armwood quarterback Devin Black (7) shakes hands with Plant defensive back Keon King (26) after the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. The Hawks beat the Panthers 27-7.
  2. Today he secures Bucs games; 30 years ago he played in them


    TAMPA —- Whenever the Bucs play a home game, Sankar Montoute is on hand to supervise more than 50 officers from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on duty at Raymond James Stadium.

    Sankar Montoute, who oversees Homeland Security for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, was a replacement player for the Bucs during the 1987 strike. 
Montoute, who had a sack and interception in the same NFL game, oversees the 50-plus officers who work at Bucs games, most of whom have no idea he played. [Times files (1987)]
  3. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Looking back at what went wrong


    In his latest Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman says Monday brought good news relating to Jameis Winston's shoulder injury.

    A frustrated Mike Evans sits on the bench during the second half of the Bucs' loss to the Cardinals Sunday in Arizona. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Goodell, union, players to meet on social issues and anthem


    NEW YORK — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, owners of each team, representatives of the players' union and players themselves will meet Tuesday to discuss ways to "move from protest to progress."

    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a news conference in February at the Super Bowl Media Center in Houston. [Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS]
  5. Wins record in reach for Phil Hayford after nearly four decades of coaching


    ST. PETERSBURG — Phil Hayford always wanted to be a football coach.

    Keswick Christian football coach Phil Hayford in the huddle during practice at the school in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2017. Hayford is one win shy of tying the Pinellas County record for overall wins. Hayford, 70, has an overall record of 194-143, which includes 33 years at Shorecrest and two at Keswick.