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Messinas keep playoff hopes alive for county


FORT PIERCE - Twin guards Gianna and Catriana Messina led the attack for the Academy of the Holy Names on Tuesday night, but it was pretty much the entire five-guard lineup that had host John Carroll seeing double.

The Jaguars sprang out to a 17-point, first-quarter lead behind the twins en route to a 64-48 win over the Rams.

More than that, it left Holy Names alone as the only team in the county still alive in the playoffs as the rest of the Hillsborough teams lost on Tuesday.

"It was the kind of game I expected, but I was hoping to handle their pressure a little bit better early on," John Carroll coach Howard Avril said. "But they have such an up-tempo game and were relentless."

Gianna Messina led the winners with 26 points, while sister Catriana added 13. Kristina Darby chipped in 15.

The first-quarter press by the Jaguars (22-7) decided the outcome. Holy Names, ranked ninth in the last Class 3A state poll, raced to a 9-0 lead in just over four minutes. John Carroll's Duquita Mandina finally broke the drought with a driving layup, but the Messina twins combined for 15 points to help their team mount a 21-4 lead following Mandina's putback at the buzzer.

The Jaguars, whose only three losses in 3A were to district rival St. Petersburg Catholic, forced numerous backcourt turnovers to open the second quarter, opening on a 10-0 run and holding a 38-11 lead at intermission.

The Rams (14-12) didn't fold and actually outscored the Jaguars in the second half, but could only trim the deficit to 16 when point guard Emily Smyth connected on her second 3-pointer.

"You can see those (Holy Names) kids eat, sleep and breathe basketball," Avril said.


6A: Boone bullies Riverview

ORLANDO - Experience is everything.

Heading into Tuesday night's game, Orlando Boone had won nine consecutive district titles, reaching four final fours along the way.

Riverview had been to the playoffs exactly zero times in its eight-year history.

It only took about two minutes to realize how important that gap was when Boone's devastating full-court press forced the Sharks to turn over the ball five times in their first seven possessions. And things didn't get easier as the Braves raced off to a 19-3 first-quarter lead, winning 54-34. Boone picked up 20 steals and 39 rebounds.

"I think experience is always a major factor," Boone coach Kim Burke said. The Boone (25-4) pressure was the perfect way to slow down Riverview. The Sharks (22-4) lost their district championship to another team that used the full-court press, Sarasota Riverview, last week.

Throughout the night, the Sharks had to focus more on getting the ball past half-court than on scoring once they got there.

In the meantime, Boone's Briyana Blair and Quagee Gaines accounted for their team's first 17 points of the game and finished with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

Riverview's leading scorer didn't even enter the game until four minutes into the fourth quarter when Casey Driscoll hit a pair of 3-pointers to give her eight points.