Buchholz falls on Day 1 of Moramarco challenge

Buchholz guard Jessica Thomas dribbles down court during the first half of the Bobcats game against Winter Haven during in the Rob Moramarco Girls Basketball Challenge held at the Buchholz on Friday.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 12:25 a.m.

Playing its first game without suspended head coach Rebecca Williams, Buchholz looked to play the rude host Friday night at the Rob Moramarco's Girls Basketball Challenge.

Unfortunately for the Bobcats, their opponent was Winter Haven.

It was the Blue Devils that beat Buchholz a week ago at a tournament in Fort Myers, where Williams received a double-technical and consequently a two-week suspension. And it was the Blue Devils again Friday night, led by a sensational 32-point performance from guard Erica Lanier, that beat Buchholz, 70-69, in a thriller before a capacity crowd at Bud Seymour Gymnasium.

Lanier, who scored 21 points in the second half, hit a pair of free throws with 11.3 seconds left, giving the Blue Devils a one-point lead. The Bobcats had two opportunities to reclaim the lead, but had a critical turnover and a missed desperation shot by Onterra Maddox that sealed Buchholz's third straight loss of the season.

“We played great defense in the second half, but we just couldn't convert on some shots when we needed them,” said Bobcats assistant coach David Frazier, who served as the team's head coach Friday.

Forward Mariah Harris led Buchholz (16-4) with 27 points, 19 of which came in the second half. Sophomore guard Jessica Thomas had 19.

“They both really stepped up tonight,” Frazier said. “They really played well the high, low feeds. We tried to set that up at the end, but just couldn't hold on to the basketball.”

A feed from Thomas to Harris gave the Bobcats a seven-point lead, 60-53, midway through the fourth period. But Cynikeria Mobley and Lanier brought the Blue Devils back. A put-back by Mobley put Winter Haven (13-3) back on top, 63-62. The lead then changed hands several times before Jessica Goble's steal and basket put Buchholz up 69-66 with 39.7 seconds left. But the Blue Devils answered back, led by Mobley and Lanier.

“She (Lanier) is just a big-time basketball player,” said Winter Haven coach Johnnie Lawson, whose team has reached the Final Four in nine of the last 10 years. “She is not getting the attention like she should from colleges around the country. She is playing with a chip on her shoulder. I believe she is one of the finest guards in the country.”

P.K. YONGE 49, AMERICAN HERITAGE 36: Junior guard Niya Johnson led the defending Class 2A state champions with 20 points and Aariel Allen added 13 as the Blue Wave improved to 11-4 on the season.

HAINES CITY 54, EASTSIDE 47: The visiting Hornets (14-1) rebounded from a slow offensive start (six points in the first) behind LaDerrika Spilliman's game-leading 20 points. Tiara Lundy led the Rams (9-6) with 15 points.

DR. PHILLIPS 75, GAINESVILLE 42: Freshman Taryn Griffey, daughter of future baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., had 29 points and Hannah Schaible added 24 in leading the Class 6A No. 2 Panthers (18-2). Sophomore guard Kayla Lovett led the Hurricanes with 10.

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