BRADENTON -- The core group has played basketball, softball and volleyball together for years.
While that chemistry is an innate trait that the Bayshore girls basketball team displayed during the three-day Smoothie King Classic at Bradenton Christian, having a full team against a powerful opponent aided the Bruins second championship in four seasons.
Bayshore edged Manatee 40-38 on Monday as Joy Norman was named to the all-tournament team and Jo Jo Muldoon garnered MVP honors for the Bruins (7-8).
"As Joy goes, we go," Bayshore head coach Jamaal Sanders said. "I don't think mentally she knows how dominant she can be, but physically she knows she's probably going to jump higher than everybody in the gym."
Norman, who was absent earlier in the season for two blowout defeats against the Hurricanes with an injury, provided a jolt in the paint in conjunction with Muldoon against Manatee's tall front line that included sophomore forward Jacqui Armer.
Undeterred, Norman drove right at Armer with Bayshore clinging to a one-point lead with less than two minutes remaining.
Norman slid her feet to the left side of Armer and went with her left-hand for a scoop lay-up to give the Bruins some breathing room.
Manatee's lone all-tournament team selection, senior Jessalyn Kinlaw - known more for her soccer prowess than her skills on the hardwood - answered immediately for the Canes by dropping in her final basket of her 26 point effort.
"The bigs weren't converting their easy buckets," Manatee head coach Flo Brazukas said. "I don't know what their shooting percentage was, but our three bigs didn't
even total 10 points (Monday)."
Then the game shifted into a free throw battle, except Bayshore converted just 1 of 6 foul shots in the final 15 seconds.
The issue for Manatee was the Canes couldn't corral any rebounds, eventually gaining possession with 0.5 seconds remaining and they could not get a final heave off in time.
"That's been our season," said Sanders about the missed free throws. "I think the last time we played them we went 2-for-20 from the free throw line. We practice them, contrary to popular belief. We do practice our free throws. It's just our Achilles' Heel."
On Monday, though, that weakness didn't cost Bayshore, who won the Smoothie King Classic's girls division for the first time since 2010 after responding from an early 11-0 deficit in the opening quarter.
Norman finished with 13 points, while Muldoon also had 13 points.
In the seventh-place game, Cardinal Mooney (6-8) nipped Bradenton Christian 40-37.
The tournament hosts received double-digit scoring from Sophie Giardina (13 points) and Katie Swaagman (11 points), but it wasn't enough to avoid dropping its third tournament game.
Meanwhile, Jacqueline Kulle's 21 points was the difference.
Manatee (4-9) blasted Bradenton Christian 70-44 to capture fifth place. The Hurricanes featured five scorers that reached double-figures in showcasing a balanced attack.
Manatee sophomore Kavious Price led the way with 18 points. D'onte Dozier (13 points), Greg Reaves (13 points), Jordan Pompey (11 points) and Christopher Hampton (10 points) rounded out the attack.
BCS (4-7) was led by Ryan Leunk (18 points) and Jake Lister (17 points).