At the end of the first quarter, the Dunbar girls basketball team led Master’s Academy 12-10 in the 2015 Queen of Palms Ruby Division semifinals, and were in the midst of a back-and-forth game with the Eagles. But the Tigers erupted in the second quarter and went into the locker room on a 29-5 run.
Dunbar (12-3) didn’t ease the pressure for the rest of the game and clinched a trip to its fifth straight Ruby division championship with a 40 point win, 73-33, over Master’s Academy.
“Those (runs) always help,” Tigers coach Dwayne Donnell said, whose defense combined to record 16 steals and 12 deflections.
“I think our defensive intensity picked up. We went to the press and defended them straight up and we got some turnovers. We’re pretty good in transition, so that kind of helped us get out and get easy buckets.”
Senior forward Respect Leaphart, a Southern Miss commit, followed up her 18-point performance in Monday night’s quarterfinal against Central by getting the run going for Dunbar early. She netted 16 first-half points and finished the game tying for a team-high with 23.
“She’s been playing well the last few games,” Donnell added.
“She’s been very energetic and today her effort was great. She shot the ball extremely well in the first half and we’re hoping we can get performances like that night in, night out for the rest of the year.”
Leaphart also stood out defensively with six rebounds and four steals.
“I’m just comfortable with the game plan and just trying to be more assertive and aggressive,” Leaphart said, who averages 16.7 points per game for the Tigers.
“As a senior, I’m trying to take over more and help my team and everyone else around me.”
Junior guard Dekeriya Patterson also scored 23 points, going 7-for-8 from two-point range. Ja’Miah Bland, a sophomore, notched a double-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds and also recorded five steals to round out the big three for the Tigers.
“When we get that kind of effort from our big three, we’re a pretty good basketball team,” Donnell said.
Dunbar will host Vero Beach in tomorrow night’s Ruby Division championship at 8:30.
Tuesday’s Queen of Palms Tournament scores
Lakewood Ranch 73, Gainesville 59
Dunbar 73, Master’s Academy 33
Vero Beach 55, Suncoast 53
Manatee 38, Naples 36
ECS 68, Cape Coral 64
Hialeah 63, Gulf Coast 47
Bullit East 85, Dwyer 71
Fifth place game: Lakewood Ranch vs. Ft. Peirce Central, 1:30 p.m.
Third place game: Master’s Academy vs. Suncoast, 5 p.m.
Championship: Vero Beach vs. Dunbar, 8:30 p.m.
Seventh place game: Naples vs. Cape Coral, 10:30 a.m.
Fifth place game: Manatee vs. ECS, 12 p.m.
Third place game: Gulf Coast vs. Dwyer, 3:30 p.m.
Championship Hialeah vs. Bullit East, 7 p.m.