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Ridgeview’s region ride ends

By Ray Dimonda Correspondent
Posted 2/23/23

DAYTONA BEACH - Friday night, as the engines practicing for the Daytona 500 roared at the Daytona Beach International Speedway next to Daytona Beach Mainland Buccaneers high school, the Ridgeview …

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Ridgeview’s region ride ends


DAYTONA BEACH - Friday night, as the engines practicing for the Daytona 500 roared at the Daytona Beach International Speedway next to Daytona Beach Mainland Buccaneers high school, the Ridgeview Lady Panthers were bringing their own roar inside the gym to face off against the Bucs to see who will have the opportunity to get to the Florida State Class 5A Final Four.

The Panthers held a tight game, trailing early then pulling ahead 16-15 with 5:45 to play in the second quarter. But the Mainland defense perfected a trail defender who waited just long enough for the Panthers to clear the ball to set up on offense, then come from behind and steal the ball for a layup score. At half, the Panthers were down by 10 as Mainland’s leader in every statistic, Anovia Sheals (20 points on the evening), was proving to be near impossible to stop. In the fourth quarter, the Panthers were putting the ball up, but it wouldn’t drop. Without the “garbage getter” under the net to scoop up the offensive rebound for a quick two, it was Mainland coming down with the rebounds and driving the court, opening the lead by 13 early in the fourth quarter. Late in the fourth quarter, the Panthers clawed their way back in, only four points down 47-43, but missed free throw opportunities ended any hopes of tying and getting to overtime as Mainland’s offense got the ball for a pass-around to kill the clock for the last :09 seconds to end the Ridgeview run in the region finals, 47-43. “That was the tale on both ends of the court,” said Ridgeview Head Coach Tyler Miller. “When we drove, we didn’t have anyone follow. We just threw it up expecting a foul. On the defensive end they drove and we just kind of watched them lay it up and they got the offensive rebound. Their game plan is a lot of their points come off second and third chances. We knew they did that, we just got caught getting boxed in at that moment.”

After shaking off the jitters and getting down to playing Ridgeview basketball, at the end of the first quarter, it was only three points separating the Bucs in front of the Panthers, 13-10.

With 5:45 to play in the second quarter, it was a Nia Blocton lay-up to pull the Panthers in front, 16-15. With 1:14 until the half, Daytona hit back-to-back three pointers to pull out front 28-22. Before half, the Buccaneers hit two more from the field to head into the break 32-22.

Team Captain and the only senior on the team, Paetyn Miller on the covered like a wet-rag type defense the Panthers were dealing with said “I had to try and figure out how to get outside. I always say, our team plays with each other, for each other.” Asked about how frustrating it was to not even get a shot off in the corner, Miller said “I guess they watched the films and they knew who to shut down.”

The second half began with Mainland slowing the game, almost as if they wanted to just ride the lead. Each offensive drive saw Daytona passing the ball over and over. But the Panther defense would pounce when the timing was right and drive for another score. With 2:46 left in the third quarter, the Panthers closed the gap to 35-30. Daytona began using the trailing defender who would pick the pockets of the Panthers, then hit a quick layup. “We could have put another teammate down there to help us to kick back out and pass out more,” said Nia Blocton. “We needed to have a more fluid transition so we wouldn’t be stuck with the one person coming up from behind us.” At the end of three quarters, Mainland led 41-30.

With eight minutes to play, the Panther shots didn’t hit the mark and there was a lack of players under the rim to get the offensive rebound. Mainland opened the lead to 43-30 with 6:17 to play. Seeing his season going downhill quickly, Coach Miller called for a full timeout to reset his team and get the train back on the rails. As the Panthers were clawing their way back in, the Buccaneers noticeably became much more physical on defense, fouling out a couple players. With 4:00 minutes remaining, Mainland went back into the passing drill trying to knock more time off the clock. With 1:16 to play, the Panthers were on the doorstep of closing the gap, trailing by five, 47-42. With :44.6 left to play, the Panthers hit one of two free throws, 47-43. On the throw-in, Daytona was called for a back-court foul giving the Panthers two more chances to drain free throws, but neither dropped, 47-43. Again with 9.9 seconds to play, two more chances, two more misses. On the throw in, it was nothing more than killing off the clock for Mainland to be the Region Champions heading into the final four. In the fourth quarter alone, the Panthers had 12 opportunities for free throws and only drained seven. The sisters of Narissa (10 points), Nacoya (12 points), and Nia Blocton (13 points) accounted for all but eight of the Panthers 43 points.

With the loss of only one senior, Paetyn Miller, the Panthers will be a team to keep an eye on for the 2024 season. “We are a young team who play well together,” said Coach Miller. “We had a great year, won eight or nine in a row to get to this point. We only are losing Paetyn and we’ll get everyone else back.”