Heading into last Friday night’s Class 2A, Region 3 championship game, City of Life Christian Academy (COLCA) Head Coach Dewrie Buggs was hoping his team’s quickness and athleticism would offset defending state champion Florida Prep’s considerable size advantage.
The plan worked for about a half, but Florida Prep (22-7) was able to pull away in the third quarter, and record a 74-58 win over COLCA, ending the Warriors season one game short of reaching a Final Four.
“You really can’t coach height,” Buggs said following the loss. They had a tremendous size advantage, and while I thought we played well, we went through a couple of spells where our shots were not falling, and they had a pretty good run in the third period that we could not overcome.”
That size advantage extended all over the court. Florida Prep started four players and had six players overall that were six-foot or taller. The Lady Warriors tallest player was 5-11 and their starting five averaged 5-5.
Still, COLCA made a game of it. After falling behind 10-2
After falling behind 10-2 at the start of the game, Jayshlynn Vega-Rivera scored seven points, and Camila De pool-Maisonet added five, as City cut the gap to two after one period, 18-16. Both teams cooled off in the second period, but City kept it a four-point game at the half, as Janelise Marty-Marrero and De pool-Maisonet each hit threes in the period as the Warriors trailed 30-26.
But Florida Prep would put the game out of reach in the third period.
Using its height advantage, the Falcons pounded the ball inside for some easy layups. Emma Risch, a 6-1 forward, hit three, three-pointers in the period as Prep built an 11-point lead, 53-42.
“We had some pretty good looks at the basket but the shots just weren’t falling,” Buggs said. “They hit some threes and were able to go over top of our defense for some easy layups and were able to pull away.”
Prep’s Kiara Williams scored eight of her teamhigh 18 points in the fourth quarter to keep City from making any type of meaningful run.
For the game, Florida Prep had four players in double figures, including Risch (16), Emani Burks (15) and Paige McDonald (14).
Florida Prep had eliminated City of Life in last year’s tournament by an 88-59 count, also in a Regional Final.
In all other tournament games in the last two years, the Falcons defeated its other five opponents by an average of 54 points.
City of Life finishes its season with a 26-1 mark, setting school records for both the most wins in a season and most consecutive wins in a season. Marty-Marrero led all COLCA scorers with 18, Vega-Rivera had 14 and De pool-Maisonet had 12.
“I could not be prouder of how we fought tonight,” Buggs added. “We have an extremely young team, but they never got rattled in the face of adversity. We will be back next year.”