Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rout results in a rematch

Academy at the Lakes’ Tatiana Manuel cuts through the Sheridan Hills Christian defense for two of her game-high 27 points.

AUSTIN ANTHONY | Times

Academy at the Lakes’ Tatiana Manuel cuts through the Sheridan Hills Christian defense for two of her game-high 27 points.

LAKELAND — Karim Nohra shrugged, hugged his assistant coaches and cracked a smile.

After the final four's biggest blowout in a decade, what else could he do?

Nohra's Academy at the Lakes squad demolished Sheridan Hills Christian 65-24 in Tuesday's Class 2A state semifinal at the Lakeland Center. The Wildcats will play for Pasco County's first state championship tonight in an 8:05 p.m. showdown with FAMU High.

"Very speechless," said senior forward Tatiana Manuel, who scored a game-high 27 points on 10-of-11 shooting.

The Wildcats (26-2) wasted no time in proving they were ready to play in the county's first state title game since Zephyrhills (1986). The Wildcats scored 20 of the game's first 23 points and had four steals and three blocks in the first four minutes.

Manuel scored 17 points in the first quarter to help AATL take an insurmountable 33-7 lead. Senior Andrea Mauger also outscored the Sharks in the period, scoring 10 of her 20 points in the first eight minutes.

The 41-point margin of victory was the most at state since Deerfield Beach's 94-38 victory over Palm Beach Lakes in the 2003 Class 6A championship game.

"It still feels unreal that we won," said Mauger, who added six rebounds, five assists and five steals. "I can't even believe it, compared to last year, when we came in here crying."

Those tears came from a 21-point state semifinal loss to the same FAMU team the Wildcats face tonight at the Lakeland Center. The defending state champion Rattlers edged Grandview Prep 53-49 in Tuesday's other semifinal.

Nohra and the Wildcats admitted to feeling jittery in Lakeland last winter against FAMU and stars Jasmine Jones and LaKaris Salter — both of whom return this year. AATL didn't look nervous this time in its second trip to the final four.

"This was like second nature now," Nohra said. "It was no big deal."

The Wildcats prepared for the Lakeland Center's spacious gym by practicing Monday at the Sun Dome. That aided the strong scoring nights from Manuel and Mauger, and an eight-point contribution from Timecia Cohen.

AATL was even more composed and impressive on defense. It recorded 20 steals, including four from Rebecca Hannah and three each from LuLu Santiago and Janise Cassanello. The Wildcats forced 25 turnovers and held the Hollywood-based Sharks to 17 percent from the field.

Alex Gittens flummoxed Sheridan Hills Christian leading scorer Caitlin McCluskey, who scored 14 points on 6-of-21 shooting.

"You could tell they'd been here before," McCluskey said.

And the Wildcats will be here again — tonight, with redemption and the first state title in school history at stake.

"I think last year, the nerves and just the atmosphere kinda got to us," Mauger said. "But this year, it's all about business."

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

>>UP NEXT

Class 2A state final

Who: Academy at the Lakes vs. FAMU, 8:05 p.m.

Where: The Lakeland Center

Admission: $10 per session; parking is $7.

TV: BHSN

On the Web: We'll be live blogging the final at tampabay.com/hometeam.

Rout results in a rematch 02/19/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 9:38am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs-Jaguars was NFL's lowest-rated ESPN game since 2005

    Bucs

    It is just the preseason, and it is the Jaguars, but Thursday night's Bucs-Jags preseason game earned a 1.6 rating on ESPN, which is the lowest-rated preseason game (excluding NFL Network) in 12 years, according to Sports Media Watch.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, left, talks with coach Dirk Koetter during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  2. Roberto Aguayo, Jonathan Drouin, Tim Beckham are coming for revenge

    Bucs

    Forget the Three Tenors.

    Make it the Three Terrors.

    The 2017 Unfulfilled Expectations Tour is about to hit Tampa Bay.

    From left, former Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo, ex-Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin and former Rays infielder Tim Beckham. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times; DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times; Getty Images]
  3. Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier is congratulated in the dugout after scoring on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Lucas Duda in the sixth inning of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Tropicana Field on Friday.
  4. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz celebrates his Trop-record 482-foot home run in the ninth inning.
  5. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take CF Kevin Kiermaier long to make his presence felt during his return Friday to the Rays lineup. Kiermaier pretended to have Mariners DH Nelson Cruz's first-inning line drive lined up even as the ball went past him to his right and to the wall.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.