OAKLEAF - Someone in Lake Mary High’s basketball entourage forgot to tell them that Oakleaf was the team that was supposed to rattle off a set of three pointers and break opponent wills with …
OAKLEAF - Someone in Lake Mary High’s basketball entourage forgot to tell them that Oakleaf was the team that was supposed to rattle off a set of three pointers and break opponent wills with scoring runs like 17-7 in the breadth of the first quarter.
“They play a very competitive schedule in that Orlando area and they came to play,” said Oakleaf coach Fred Cole. “We settled down, took a breath and played our game. We didn’t think they were going to be a pushover and they challenged us.”
Their game turned into a 34 point explosion from sophomore shooter Taliah Scott, who netted just one jumper in that eye-opening first quarter, en route to a 66-63 region 1-7A quarterfinal win on Thurs., Feb. 11. Scott hit six three-pointers.
Oakleaf (22-2) next travels to Spruce Creek High School on Tues., Feb. 16 for the region semifinal with Spruce Creek (18-5) beating Nease 67-63 in their region opener. Spruce Creek is led by their own trio of shooters with three players; two seniors and a sophomore all averaging over 10 points.
On the opposite end of the bracket, Timber Creek (16-5) hosts Colonial (16-9).
Scott, who was accepting the shootout challenged issued by Lake Mary’s own supersophomore, Jordan Boddie, who had 11 of the first 17 points for Lake Mary’s first quarter.
“Coach told us really to focus on our defense more because that produced the breakaways and layups,” said Scott. “Having Kaylah (guard Kaylah Turner) back in settles our defensive end and let’s me play help defense and, on offense, she facilitates the ball movement.”
Facilitates? Is that like Matriculating, from former Kansas City Chief’s head coach Hank Stram fame?
With Turner’s facilitating in play, Oakleaf slowly reeled in the Lake Mary lead with Scott nailing back-to-back threes after Scott netted two free throws and a layup to get the score to 27-19 with three minutes to the half.
“My offense was a little off and I knew my defensive skills were needed,” said Turner. “I got back in the game in the second half.”
With Lake Mary maintaining their own three-point shooting game, Oakleaf fought back to a 31-26 deficit at the halftime break that Turner saw a momentum for the second half.
“We were a little hyper in the first half and they were hitting baskets,” said Turner. “We just had to settle down and do what we do.”
From the opening kickoff in the third period, after a Geniyah Durante three and layups from Fantasia James layups got the game tied at 33-33 before Turner scored off a steal to layup to give the Lady Knights their first lead at 35-33.
Lake Mary stormed to stay up and took leads twice with James hitting a three at 2:46 to tie the game at 43-43 and Scott landing a three for a 46-43 lead with a minute to the fourth quarter.
“We don’t have to coach intensity with this group,” said Cole. “That is always there, but sometimes they kind of lose focus. The seniors took it up in the locker room and got the team back on track.”
In the fourth quarter, Lake Mary got some inspired backboard play from junior Kyra Frazine, a 5’-11” forward, who was clearing missed Oakleaf shots that turned to Lake Mary points and a 58-58 score with just 3:25 left in the game.
Scott started to drive through the lane to challenge the paint and Frazine and picked up foul shots along the way to put Oakleaf up 65-60 with Durante adding a set of free throws as well.
Boddie was unrelenting with a final three at four seconds to bring the score to 66-63, but a backcourt violation on a steal to halfcourt inbounds call on Boddie proved fatal at the final whistle.