BRADENTON -- Braden River girls basketball head coach Carl Williams likes to start the season against Southeast because the Seminoles provide a lot of good lessons.
Sometimes those lessons can be painful as they were Tuesday night, when a veteran Southeast team behind two-time Bradenton Herald Player of The Year DeAngela Mathis rolled to a 60-40 victory in the season opener for both teams.
"We definitely learned, and that's why we play Southeast," Williams said. "I start with (Southeast) coach John Harder because I always know they are going to fight hard and be there and show you things you need to work on. You can only simulate things in practice for so long."
The ball-hawking Noles gave Braden River a lesson in what can happen if you are careless with the ball. Applying pressure throughout most of the game, Southeast forced 28 turnovers. Janelle Gould led the way with 12 steals.
Mathis played a solid all-around game, finishing with 16 points, nine steals and four rebounds. Guard Bevin Mays led all scorers with 20 points, while Keshawna Robinson had nine points and led the Noles with seven rebounds.
"I think I played all right. I know that I have a lot to improve on," Mathis said. "Our team has some work to do. We have high expectations, which means we have to work hard. We did a very good job on our transition layups, and our defense was good."
Braden River struggled to stay with Southeast and picked up 17 personal fouls in the first half. All five of the Pirates' starters were saddled with three fouls at halftime, when Southeast took a 28-13 lead into
"A coach is blessed when he has five seniors he can start, and five out of our top six girls have been with me for four years," Harder said. "It is a veteran team, and I don't look at this as a rebuilding year. I look at as a reloading year. This is it. We've been waiting a long time for this.
"I thought it was a wonderful opening for DeAngela. She had a broken finger and didn't do any fall ball, and they had a box-and-one on her tonight and she responded. When you consider the pressure she is under, it was a good game. Everybody knows her, and everyone is going to be on her."
Southeast started a little slowly with Braden River jumping out to a 4-0 lead, but Mathis got the Noles going by nailing a trey and converting two free throws.
The game was tied at 8 when Southeast reeled off eight straight points and never lost the lead. The Noles stretched the lead to 47-25 in the fourth quarter.
Braden River put a little run together to cut its deficit to 50-34 with 3:57 left in the game, but Southeast responded with six straight points to push the lead back to 22.
Charity Landrum led Braden River with 11 points, and Kelly Logan added 10 points and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Madison Jaco had six rebounds and six points for Braden River.