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Preps

Yellow Jackets overcome sluggish start

By EMILY NIPPS
Published February 20, 2004

TAMPA - Blake had played too well, accomplished too much, to let it all slide out the door Thursday night against Lake Wales.

So when the Highlanders came into Blake's gym and jumped to a quick 10-point lead in the first quarter, Blake coach April Williams had call a timeout to get into her players' heads. She settled the Yellow Jackets down, reminded them of who they just had beaten in their last game, and sent them back to play.

Blake (18-11) snapped back to form and caught up with Lake Wales (14-8) by the start of the second half and finished the night with a 56-47 region quarterfinal victory.

"I wasn't worried," Williams said. "We just weren't playing Blake basketball. (During the timeout) I told them that they're not going to just roll over.

"I said, "Tech is over. We've got to play some basketball."'

Blake beat Tampa Bay Tech in last week's district championship, by far its biggest victory of the season.

Tampa Bay Tech was ranked fifth in Class 4A at the time, and if the Yellow Jackets had lost to Tech, they would have faced top-ranked Winter Haven instead of Lake Wales.

After getting through that game, there was no way Blake was going to hand this one away.

The Yellow Jackets relied on their pugnacious man-to-man defense to dig themselves out of the hole they created in the first half, and took the lead early in the second half when Joy Jones (12 points) slipped a behind-the-back pass to post player Shenequia Pressley (four).

Blake never looked back as it forced 11 second-half turnovers against the frustrated Highlanders.

"They exploited every mistake we made," Lake Wales coach Steve Jolley said. "I think we just didn't respond well to their defense and we did not play defense well in the second half."

Erica Nelson gave Blake its biggest boost with 16 points, including three 3-pointers.

Jones also had a strong night with two 3-pointers, and Ashley Butler scored nine.

Lake Wales was led by Vashti Banks, who scored 21 points (three 3-pointers).

Blake will face perhaps its toughest opposition yet when it travels to Groveland South Lake (27-1) on Tuesday for the region semifinal.

[Last modified February 20, 2004, 01:31:57]


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