In a tense, late-season girls basketball showdown Saturday night, Fort Myers’ defense did not disappoint.
The Green Wave came up with a few steals in the final two minutes and also hit timely free throws, giving the Green Wave a 59-52 win over Dunbar on Saturday night in the Wave Cave.
Destanni Henderson scored 22 points for Fort Myers (17-5), which overcame an equally noteworthy performance by Dunbar’s Dekeriya Patterson, who scored 21 points for the Tigers.
Ja’Miah Bland had 19 points for Dunbar (16-5).
It was the Green Wave’s fifth straight win. Fort Myers has not lost in 17 days.
Dunbar trailed by as many as eight in the second half. Its perimeter shooters netted some 3-pointers to make it close late.
“There was a lot of back-and-forth action, that’s for sure,” Dunbar coach Dwayne Donnell said. “We made some turnovers in the backcourt later, and you can’t do that and expect to win. I was proud of the way we fought. This game was about bragging rights. You never like to lose, but we will get over this and get back to the gym Monday morning.”
Fort Myers coach Chad Terrell thought the close game and the raucous, jam-packed Fort Myers gym was typical of the Fort Myers-Dunbar rivalry.
“This rivalry is something we always look forward to, and this game tonight was a big reason why,” Terrell said. “It was all you could ask for. Dunbar made a few runs at us late, but our team showed composure. We were able to stick with our game plan.”
Terrell felt the Green Wave did a good job adjusting to things on the court.
“Dunbar threw some different defenses at us,” Terrell said. We were able to handle their zone or 1-3-1. We held up well under adversity, which is a sign of a mature team.”
Dunbar started off on a 9-2 lead in the first quarter, but the Green Wave quickly got right back in it. In the final minute of the first frame, Alexus Johnson nailed a short jump shot and Destanni Henderson followed with a 3-pointer to put Fort Myers ahead 17-16.
The Tigers led 29-26 at halftime.
Fort Myers built a lead early in the third during a 10-0 run for a 42-34 advantage with 2:25 remaining. Two minutes later, Patterson was fouled making a layup, hit the ensuing free throw and the Tigers trailed only 42-39 after three periods.
Bland nailed a 3-pointer to get the Tigers within 50-46 with 1:28 remaining. Then Henderson made two three throws and 14 seconds later, a Green Wave steal and layup by Bethany Brunson put Fort Myers up by eight.
Patterson made a 3-pointer to cut it to three points, 55-52, with 14.9 seconds left in the game, but then two more Henderson free throws and another turnover ended it.