For one quarter Saturday, the P.K. Yonge and FAMU High girls’ basketball teams bobbed and weaved like heavyweight prize fighters feeling each other out.
Both schools won state championships last year, and each have players headed to Division-I universities.
FAMU High patiently waited out its opponent, and the Rattlers’ role players stepped up to knock down big shots, earning a 49-21 victory with a dominating second half at the Capital City Holiday Classic at TCC.
“We’ve played each other the last few years, he (Blue Wave coach Willie Powers) knows my style and I know his style,” Rattlers coach Ahmad Aliyy said. “When you get two teams that are familiar and have played in big, competitive games, you have to figure out what’s going to work in terms of your game plan.”
With both teams employing packed-down zone defenses to neutralize premier post players, open shots were available on the perimeter for some lesser-knowns.
FAMU High forward Ambriel Scott came off the bench to score seven points, while Rattlers guard Ja’Nyia McNealy knocked down three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points, despite battling illness that left her wanting for energy during Friday’s game.
“I played better today,” McNealy said. “I was trying to hurry my recovery to help the team, but I should have sat out (Friday). I played today and I’m glad I did.”
Conversely, the Blue Wave (11-5) could get nothing going on either end. They were outrebounded 40-28 overall, with the Rattlers (13-0) claiming 16 offensive rebounds. They also shot 2 of 10 from the free-throw line, while Alabama commit Brooksie McGraw was held to just two points.
Mix in a zero-point fourth quarter, and it was not a good day in any category for P.K. Yonge.
“We didn’t hit any shots,” Powers said. “We were 1 of 14 from 3-point land and when you only take 22 shots for the game, that’s pretty bad. And we turned it over 18 times. When you play like that, you can’t win, especially against a state championship team like that.”
FAMU High’s LaKaris Salter was named tournament MVP, scoring 14 of her 16 points in the second half, while grabbing 15 rebounds.
“At the beginning, I got a little frustrated because we weren’t doing what we normally do,” Salter said. “The first quarter score was low for us, but it was low for them as well. But then we got patient. (At) halftime, we made some adjustments and started slowing the pace down to get more touches, more easy looks, more passes.”
Rattlers freshman Jazmine Jones scored six points with five rebounds, four steals, four blocks and two assists in being named to the All-Tournament team.
P.K. Yonge, which had current Baylor guard Niya Johnson leading the way the last few years, was led by Courtney Dollison’s 10 points.
“We knew we hadn’t beaten P.K. Yonge in four or five years and just came in with the mentality that it wasn’t going to happen again,” Salter said. “They didn’t have Niya, but we still had to play against some great players that are going to great colleges. It was a good game, tough game, physical game. It was good for us.”