The Barron Collier Cougars are ravaging opponents.
The Lely Lady Trojans were their last meal, with the Cougars posting a 79-47 win at home on Monday.
“For about 10 minutes we hung with the best team in Florida,” said Lely coach Brandon Miller.
Lely poured in 19 points, finishing the first quarter with a 19-17 lead.
“I thought Lely wanted it more in the first quarter,” said Cougars coach Mike Hamburger.
The second quarter went more the Cougars way, outscoring Lely 20-9 for a half-time lead of 37-26.
It got even worse in the second half, with Lely being outscored 42-21.
Hamburger credited Michaela Hawley with her strong defense as Lely’s leading scorer Victoria Howard made just one shot, plus two free throws for four points, 12 under her average.
Lely’s record is 12-3, while Barron Collier moved to 20-2. The Cougars are still high from a standout win in the 9th annual Holiday Shootout.
“They found another gear after the first quarter that we couldn’t answer,” Miller said. “When you shut down Victoria, holding her to one basket, it shows how good a team you have. We committed 33 turnovers, with most due to their defense. They are just phenomenal.”
On the bright side, Heather Chairez, Chelsie Dangler and Veronica Perry all scored in double figures, while Perry also hauled down eight rebounds.
“We had 30 rebounds, but we just couldn’t run our half-court offense against them,” Miller said. The loss came after the Lady Trojans tested their resolve in two close victories in the Snowflake Invitational at Fort Myers High on the weekend. They edged Port Charlotte, 59-56 and Fort Myers, in overtime, 49-43.
“We learned we can win close games,” Miller said of the victories. “We did a great job controlling the boards with 51 rebounds and 15 steals against Port Charlotte. Victoria was consistent with 16 points and Jackie Licout and Heather Chairez chipped in with 12 points each. Our defense picked up in the second half defending the 3-point shot better.”
In the Fort Myers game Lely jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but Fort Myers used a slow-down tactic to get Lely out of rhythm.
“Victoria willed the team to win,” Miller said as Howard scored eight of the team’s 13 field goals. “She took over the game and stepped up when some of the other girls were struggling with their shot. We controlled the boards for most of the game and our hard work and scrappiness was enough to answer the pressure at the end of the game.”
In the overtime, Lely’s defense stepped up to force turnovers and subsequent fouls by Fort Myers.
Howard, Dangler, Chairez, Stephanie Neill and Manolitha Joseph hit clutch free throws in overtime to seal the game.
The Lady Trojans travel to play St. John Neumann at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
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