Golden Gate’s Mia Francois had a game-high 18 points, all but four coming in the second half, as the Titan girl’s basketball team outscored rival Palmetto Ridge 25-5 in the fourth quarter alone, going on to secure a 49-31 win at home Tuesday night in the Battle of the Gate.
Only 11 days after losing to Palmetto Ridge (13-8, 3-2) by three points on the road, 47-44, Golden Gate (11-7, 2-3) overcame another slow start to eventually pull away.
Titans head coach Keri Looker said she was mostly pleased with the way her team took advantage of their familiar surroundings, as opposed to coming short in front of a packed gym, with a full band, back in the teams’ first meeting on January 6.
“If it’s possible, we played even worse in that game, with a worse start than we had tonight. That made me nervous at halftime. I thought it was a repeat of the last game, but we actually came out strong in the third quarter and were able to keep up that momentum this time,” she detailed, pointing to defense leading to offense.
Looker thought Francois played her best all-around game of the season yet, applauding her guard play. Where Francois continued to create turnover after turnover on defense, pairing with Chim’sly Pericles on offense – who finished with 11 points – the duo combined to score 29 of Golden Gate’s 49 points in the game.
“Our defense really dictates our offense, we have some great athletes, a lot of speed. When we get them [Francois and Pericles] going things start to happen and move in the right direction for us. We knew they had to step up,” Looker said of her leaders.
Taking a 6-5 lead at the end of the first quarter as a result of a Pericles buzzer-beating layup, Golden Gate and Palmetto Ridge entered halftime deadlocked at 14 apiece, the Bears’ Monet Burkett leading with eight first half points. A 7-0 run to end the third quarter put the visiting Bears up 26-24 entering the final eight minutes, but a 6-0 Titan run to start the fourth broke the game open and escalated in a hurry.
For the Titans, defending their home court against the cross-town rival was a must to stay in the district battle.
“We really wanted to get one just to prove that we’re in this race. I know we will probably see them again at some point, so if that’s the case we definitely wanted to send a message that we’re here to compete just as much as they are.”
Golden Gate: 2 Mia Francois, 18; 1 Chim’sly Pericles, 11; 32 Mikaela Seitz, 7; 34 Carlin Palmer, 6; 30 Adrian Gomez, 5; 4 Aliette Amador, 2.
Palmetto Ridge: 1 Monet Burkett, 11; 15 Alvis Agaraj, 6; 11 Haley Randall, 4; 21 Sandralee Benedict, 4; Haven Craft, 3.
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