Gainesville girls face off in basketball tournament


The Cocoa Tigers and Eastside Rams played in the second round of the Gainesville Invitational tournament Saturday afternoon.

BRAD McCLENNY/ Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 4:45 p.m.

The P.K. Yonge girls basketball team proved that it is one of the premier teams in the state at the 16-team Perry and Mark McGriff State Farm/Kiwanis Club of Gainesville Invitational tournament.

The tournament was held Dec. 27-29 at the Gainesville High School gymnasium as teams from around the state showed up to face off against local teams.

This was the second year of the tournament, and this year, it was broken down into two divisions — gold and silver. The tournament’s organizer is Robert Moramarco, an Eastside High School graduate who teaches geometry at GHS.

He said the tournament attracted many college scouts.

“We changed the format this year because we realize some teams, like Eastside and GHS, for example, are not as strong as they have been in the past,” Moramarco said on the first day of the tournament as Eastside and Titusville High School were warming up. “The overall level of talent is still good.”

The Lady Blue Wave went into the tournament undefeated, and left undefeated. It went 3-0 during the tournament to take its record to 15-0, but it wasn’t easy. They won all three games by a combined total of eight points. They beat Malone 69-66 on Thursday as Crystal Johnson and Jaterra Bonds scored 27 and 22 points, respectively.

On Friday, P.K. Yonge beat Daytona Beach Father Lopez and freshman sensation Cassie Peoples, 74-72. Peoples has received national attention since she was in the sixth-grade, and also has received early recruiting letters from national collegiate powers, including the University of Connecticut and the University of Tennessee.

She poured in 36 points against the Lady Blue Wave, but Crystal and Jaterra formed a dynamic duo, as both scored 25 points for P.K. Yonge.

That win put P.K. Yonge in the gold division’s championship game on Sunday night against West Palm Beach Twin Lakes. They beat Twin Lakes 71-68 after trailing 53-44 going into the final period. They outscored Twin Lakes 27-15 in the final period, and were led by Crystal and Jaterra, who had 23 and 17 points, respectively. Andrea Potter added a solid 16 points.

Land O’ Lakes High School in Pasco County won the silver division with a victory Saturday over Cocoa High School.

The GHS Lady Canes, the host of the tournament, placed seventh in the silver division, and coach David Gordon said the tournament was a good experience for his young team.

“We lost nine seniors from last year’s team, and we are struggling this year, obviously,” said Gordon of the 4-10 Lady Canes.

Eastside High School Coach Kent Johnson, who used this tournament as a building block during last year’s season, said he looked forward to doing the same thing this year after coming in third place in the silver division.

“Last year, we had a pretty good run in this tournament and went on a tremendous winning streak and finished the season strong,” said Johnson, whose Lady Rams went 2-1 during the tournament and is now 7-9.

On Thursday, the Rams beat a much taller Titusville team 44-28, with a balanced scoring attack and a lot of defensive pressure. It took the Lady Rams a little while to warm up, but when they did, Titusville was in trouble.

The first quarter ended with Titusville ahead 6-3. However, the second quarter was all Eastside as the Lady Rams only allowed Titusville to score two points.

The quarter began with Diona Bryant draining a 3-pointer to tie the score at 6. A few minutes later, Aries Moore was fouled as she attempted a 3-pointer, and made all three free throws to make the score 9-6 with 2:53 left in the first half.

Dionna Crawford of Titusville was fouled with 1:09 left in the half, and she made one of two free throws to make the score 9-7. Eastside’s Ambrianna Days was then fouled, and she made one of two free throws to make the score 10-7.

On Eastside’s next possession, Days scored on a nice move to the basket to make the score 12-7. Titusville’s Brianna Wright was then fouled, and she made one of two free throws to make the score 12-8 with 24.5 seconds left.

The Lady Rams worked the clock down, and scored as the buzzer sounded to go into halftime with a 14-8 lead. The Lady Rams outscored Titusville 30-20 in the second half, and cruised to the victory. The Lady Rams lost to Cocoa 56-41 on Friday, and came back on Saturday and beat Ft. Myers Bishop Verot 59-36.

Buchholz High School participated in the tournament’s gold division. The Lady Bobcats loss to Delray Beach Atlantic High School 64-62 on Thursday and to Ft. Myers Cypress Lake 67-62 on Friday before bouncing back Saturday to beat Malone 52-29. The Lady Bobcats ended the tournament with a 7-9 record.

The All-Tournament Team was led by Crystal Johnson of P.K. Yonge, who was the gold division’s MVP, and Land O'Lakes Kayli Keough, who was the silver division’s MVP. Other local players to make the team included Jaterra of P.K. Yonge and Diona of Eastside.

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