A closer look at our female and male players of the week:
Summer Quigley, East Lake
The senior guard had a long and memorable Friday night.
Quigley scored 38 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a 61-56 double-overtime win over Countryside in the Class 8A, District 10 final. It was the first time in school history that the Eagles have won a girls basketball district title, and it snapped an 11-game losing streak to Countryside.
After the game, East Lake players cut down the net. Then it was off to Chili’s to celebrate the win. When the party finally broke up, Quigley went home and watched game film of the win.
“Didn’t get much sleep, no,” Quigley said. “I just wanted to see it again. I really thought we could win the game in regulation so I wanted to see what we did and what we could’ve done better.”
Quigley is the only senior on East Lake’s roster. She transferred from Seffner Christian in her junior year. Her brother, Ryan, is the head coach. She has been the team’s main scorer ever since she arrived. This season she averages 25 points per game on a team that scores 59 per game.
As the lone senior and the top offensive threat, Quigley knew it was up to her to take control in the district final.
“I’m the only senior so I had to be calm and take control a little bit,” said Quigley, who is committed to Saint Leo. “And I didn’t want to end my high school career by not winning a district championship. There was some motivation there.”
East Lake (20-6) will play Strawberry Crest at home on Thursday in the region quarterfinals. Last season the Eagles didn’t make it out of the district quarterfinals. Quigley said she believed this year would be different.
“I definitely thought so,” she said. “We are still very young, but there is a lot of talent on this team. We all believed that we could do this.”
Dionte Blanch, East Lake
In the past two months, Blanch has done some impressive things on the court. The East Lake junior was named MVP of the Arrow Force Holiday Classic, reached the 1,000-point career mark and scored a school-record 39 points to beat Wesley Chapel in the Ulrich Classic.
But to Blanch, those accomplishments pale in comparison to what to he was able to do against St. Petersburg last week.
It was not the individual numbers that stood out. Blanch was solid, finishing with 23 points, 12 rebounds and six rebounds.
What really mattered was that Blanch led the Eagles to a win, something he had never done against the Green Devils during his career.
Better still, it came in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game, marking the first time East Lake has ever won the title in boys basketball.
“That was definitely the biggest achievement of my high school career,” Blanch said.
To get past their nemesis, the Eagles slowed the pace, limiting the amount of possessions St. Petersburg had on offense. Blanch took just one 3-point shot, tied for his lowest total of the season.
“That was kind of by design because I wanted to give my team the best shot at every possession,” Blanch said.
When Blanch did shoot, he was efficient, hitting 7 of his 12 field goals and knocking down 9 of his 11 free throws. He also was careful with ball, committing just one turnover to match his season low.
The win was nice, but the Eagles know they likely will have to beat St. Petersburg again in the Class 8A, District 10 final Friday and in the region semifinals if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs.
But now they have confidence thanks to Blanch’s performance in the conference title game.