The Bayshore High School girls basketball team crowded around the championship trophy after its final game of the Smoothie King Classic, a narrow 50-45 win against the host Panthers, when Anna Albers looked around to make sure the Bruins were organized.
She held up four fingers on her right hand and then waved it around in her teammates’ faces to make sure they were following her lead inside the noisy Bradenton Christian School gymnasium.
The cameras came out and the Bruins fanned out with the trophy in the middle and four fingers each pointed to the ceiling. For the seniors who had spent all four years at Bayshore, a Smoothie King title had become a given. The Bruins’ fifth straight trip to the championship game ended with a fourth straight title.
“We knew that everyone would be trying to take us out,” said Jasmine Youngthunder, who scored 23 points in the championship game and was named tournament MVP. “We just had to play hard.”
Bayshore’s offense runs through its interior tandem of Youngthunder and fellow senior Alexus Norman, and when Norman exited with her fourth foul less than a minute into the third quarter the offensive burden fell on Youngthunder.
Early during the first quarter, the Bruins coaches challenged Youngthunder to be aggressive. She often initiates offense on the perimeter, and Bayshore would benefit from her willingness to stretch the floor or get to the rim from a wing position.
She started early, hitting a pair of 3-pointers during the first half and finished with a double-double. It was a complete effort: 23 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. She helped hold BCS’ strong forward tandem of Bailey Sikkema and Amy Van Ryn to 15 points combined, and Bradenton Christian’s only consistent offensive weapon was guard Sophie Giardina, who had 17.
“She really picked it up when Alexus sat down,” Bayshore head coach Jamaal Sanders said. “We’ve been telling Jas that she’s probably the best player on the floor every night she stepped out on the floor and she came through here. She hadn’t taken that role on and tonight she just played lights out. I mean, it surprised me.”
Lake Placid 51, Braden River 47: The Pirates misfired on a chance to tie the game during the final 10 seconds and the Dragons held on to take third place. Julia Tuason paced Lake Placid with 17 points. Braden River (3-11) finished with two players in double figures, as Lily Bird scored 11 and Amiya Hopkins added 10.
Shorecrest Prep 36, Lemon Bay 33: Shorecrest Prep ground out a low-scoring win against Lemon Bay to take fifth place at the Smoothie King Classic. Wing Renice Dacres led Shorecrest in scoring for the third straight game, pouring in 24 points in the win.
Cardinal Mooney 66, Sebring 34: The Cougars salvaged a seventh-place finish with a blowout win. Jacquelline Kulle paced Mooney (3-10) with 25, Katie Beckmann added 14 and Shaylee Crager finished with 11.
Cape Coral 75, Bradenton Christian 66: BCS trailed by as many as 12 during the first half against the Seahawks and their quest for a repeat as the Smoothie King champion fell short despite 31 points from guard Dominick Otteni.
“This is the third day in a row we put ourselves in a hole and had to fight back, and unfortunately tonight it caught back up with us,” head coach Scott Townsend said. “Our boys can hold their heads up high. We learned a lot these last three days and this is going to catapult us. This is going to help us get to where we want to get to.”
Cape Coral hit eight 3-pointers during the first half and 11 overall. Brandon Alcide led the way for the Seahawks with 22 points and was named tournament MVP. Harwin Francois added 17 for Cape Coral.
“If they’re going to beat you shooting those deep 3s like that then they deserve to win,” Townsend said.
Gallatin County 68, Miami Lasalle 57: Gallatin’s Mason Wilson scored 31 points to set a Smoothie King Classic record with 71 total points and send the Wildcats back to Warsaw, Ky., with a third-place trophy by beating LaSalle. Wilson previously tied a tournament record with six 3-pointers Tuesday and went 13 for 13 from the free-throw line for another record in the third-place game.
Braden River 65, Bayshore 52: After a disappointing start, the Pirates produced back-to-back wins to take fifth place.
Guard Deoni Cason paced Braden River (11-2) with 15 points, while Daniel Tart added 13 and Jacob Garrett chipped in 12. Bayshore (5-9) settled for sixth place despite 15 points from guard Jaylen Pauley.
Sarasota 77, Southeast 64: The Seminoles’ disappointing season continued with a last-place finish. Head coach Floyd Watkins was ejected after picking up a pair of technicals, and 21 points from small forward Alex Taylor couldn’t keep the Noles (2-12) from falling to the Sailors in the seventh-place game. Shooting guard Amin Marshall added 19 points for Southeast and Sarasota’s Kaleb Fields led all scorers with 26.