Paris Williams’ looping shot soared toward its apex before swishing through the net, sending the home side of the 50 fans in attendance into an exuberant cheer.
It also stretched St. Petersburg Lakewood’s lead over visiting Bayshore deep into double digits in Friday’s Class 6A-District 11 girls basketball championship.
With the Bruins’ momentum zapped and against a team with more height and a shifty point guard, there was no second-half comeback in sight.
The Spartans cruised to a 66-38 victory that sends Bayshore on the road for next week’s regional quarterfinals.
The Bruins travel to Immokalee, who defeated Fort Myers Cypress Lake 73-34 in the District 12 title game, on Tuesday for their regional quarterfinal.
But on Friday, the focus was on trying to capture the program’s first girls basketball championship.
Standing in their way was a Lakewood squad built for the postseason.
The Spartans and Southeast High typically battle for the district title, but Bayshore qualified for the region playoffs for the first time with a victory over the Seminoles in the semifinals earlier in the week.
On Friday, though, Lakewood was simply too tall, too quick, too sharp and smothering on defense.
We tried to teach boxing out and rebounding, but it kind of goes out the window when the ball goes up in the air. You’re trying to jump and they come down and get possession. ... It’s hard to compete with.
Bayshore head coach Jamaal Sanders
“They have a good point guard, nice size so we got outrebounded,” said Bayshore coach Jamaam Sanders. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to see them again and put a different game plan (together).”
Spartans point guard Zariyah Daniels slashed through the lane and distributed to Lakewood’s perimeter shooters or dumped it off to the post players time and time again.
Daniels finished with 12 points, but it was her handles that kept Lakewood’s possessions zipping and alive whenever Bayshore was sniffing a potential steal.
And in the shooting department from 3-point land, if it wasn’t Williams (13 points) knocking them down then Jaylynn Presley was burying triples.
She finished with 11 points after draining three 3-pointers.
Down low, Samantha Douglas (11 points) and Toi Smith (game-high 15 points) wreaked havoc.
They kept possessions going with offensive rebounds several times, while dropping buckets from short-range.
“We tried to teach boxing out and rebounding, but it kind of goes out the window when the ball goes up in the air,” Sanders said. “You’re trying to jump and they come down and get possession. ... It’s hard to compete with.”
Defensively, Douglas and Smith created mismatches for the smaller Bruins.
Undeterred, Bayshore senior Alexus Norman dropped a team-high 14 points using a bevy of post-moves.
“I’m 5-foot-9,” Norman said. “They’re 6-foot, 6-foot-2. ... I tried a couple drop steps and then a couple to the middle.”
Norman was also a key for Lakewood’s late first-half run.
Saddled in foul trouble, Norman picked up her third foul early in the second quarter that took the Bruins’ best scorer out of the game.
Lakewood benefited before using the late first-half spurt to pour it on in a second half that was never close.