The Lady Patriots’ basketball team (14-15 overall record) concluded their 2016-2017 regular season on Feb. 25 with a 72-66 victory over the Hillsborough Community College Lady Hawks (9-18).
With the win, the Lady Pats clinch a spot in the National Junior College Athletic Association State Basketball Tournament, scheduled to begin on March 8 and hosted by CF.
In addition to securing a spot in the state tournament, CF also honored its sophomores prior to tipoff against Hillsborough. Current sophomores on the Lady Patriots roster who were honored include Fernanda Midaglia, Charlisa Daniels, Kiarah Mallory, Amanda Melosky and redshirt freshman Rita Jarque.
Sophomore Forward Melosky led all scorers with a career high 26 points on 11 of 16 shooting from the field. She also tallied eight defensive rebounds.
“[Sophomore night] was kind of emotional but I knew we needed the win, so I had to try to keep the emotions down and just play the game,” Melosky said.
CF’s bench production proved to be monumental in this must-win tilt. Its bench scored 32 points, 15 of which came from Freshman Guard and Australia native Nicola Mathews.
Alongside a career-scoring night from Melosky and a solid performance off the bench from Mathews, CF’s defense was another major factor contributing to its win. CF forced the Lady Hawks to commit 14 turnovers while holding them to just 31 percent shooting from the field.
CF’s sophomores scored a combined 40 points in the game. Sophomore Guard Charlisa Daniels’ game-high three steals helped the Lady Pats escape with the win. It was a back and forth bout as there were a total of 10 lead changes in the game.
The Lady Pats caught fire late in the third quarter, building their lead up to 11 points, which was their largest of the game. However, the Lady Hawks did not go down without a fight. HCC crawled back into the game late in the fourth quarter with strong perimeter scoring and second-chance points off the rebound.
With just under 30 seconds remaining in the game, CF led by three points and the Lady Hawks had one final possession in which to capitalize (they didn’t). CF held on for a six-point win.
Daniels said of the game, “We have a lot of freshman players so we needed to step up as sophomores and show them how we do things.”
Her late-game steal helped the Lady Patriots come up with their biggest victory of the season.
CF has a 3-0 record against the Lady Hawks this season. Its biggest victory against HCC came on Jan. 21 in which the Lady Pats won 77-62 at home.
“It was emotional,” Jarque said. “We all cried before the game.”
The Lady Patriots finished second overall in their conference. They are quite familiar with their first opponent in the state tournament—Gulf Coast State College—a team who routed CF in the quarterfinal round of last year’s tournament.
CF will have its hands full on March 8 against GCSC: the number one JUCO women’s basketball team in the nation. But the Lady Pats are optimistic about the matchup and hope to avenge last year’s early exit.
Story and photos by: Darian Williams