Basketball: Sickles girls make point with win

By BRYAN BURNS, Times Correspondent
Published November 15, 2007

TAMPA - Ranked No. 1 and 2 in the Times' preseason poll, Sickles' matchup with Freedom figured to be a hotly contested affair between two of the county's best.

If Wednesday's result is any indication, though, the rest of the county might be looking up at the Gryphons for the remainder of the season.

Leading 29-28 at halftime, Sickles (2-0) went on a 16-0 run to start the second half and held Freedom to five points in the third quarter in a 75-44 rout of the Patriots.

"I hope this shows the county that we're a good team," Sickles senior Shawnta Snakovsky said. "We're kind of small so when other teams look at us, they probably think we're not that good. Maybe this will prove we are."

Snakovsky - Sickles' returning leading scorer - scored just six in the first half. Senior forward Katie MacKenzie picked up the Gryphons early, scoring 14 of her 20 in the first half. MacKenzie's basket with just more than three minutes remaining in the half gave Sickles a 27-18 lead, but Freedom (1-1) closed on a 9-2 run to come within one at halftime.

"Katie MacKenzie kept us in it early," Snakovsky said. "If I'm not on, I know she's going to be on so I just keep passing her the ball."

"We came out a little tight in the first half, and we kind of let them get back into the game at the end of the half," Sickles coach Mark Key said. "We played much better in the second half."

Snakovsky finally got untracked in the third quarter, making four straight baskets at one point to push Sickles' lead to nine. She went 9-for-11 in the second half and finished as the game's leading scorer with 25.

"She just stayed the course," Key said. "I told her at the half to be patient. She did a great job of not forcing anything. She played great, and that was a key."

Freedom, which jumped out to a 10-2 lead, couldn't get much offense going after its hot start - the Patriots were held to just 16 second-half points. Barbara Battle led Freedom with 12 points.