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Nease High School Basketball

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Dec, 2020

Lady Panthers improve to 5-1

Often times, big game buildups don’t live up to the hype.  The first quarter competition between Nease and St. Augustine, reflected two lethargic teams not fully committed to the magnitude of the game.  To much is given, much is expected.  Games played on Monday's, often leaves uncertainty about the quality of play.   On a brisk Monday night in the ‘Den’, both teams appeared sluggish and disconnected early. The display of the oops was common on both fronts.   

St. Augustine came into the game claiming a 5-0 record, but against inferior talent for the most part.  Nease (6-1) entered the contest on a three game winning streak and ranked #7 in the latest Max Preps 7-A standings.  On paper, the game was set to be a signature win for the victor.  Nease played without junior point guard Savannah Gomes for the second consecutive game, as she awaits the result of an MRI on her knee.  However, she was present and fully engaged. Savannah could be seen leading the bench effort by cheering and encouraging her teammates through the many puzzling, frustrating and dramatic moments. At times, the game resembled a ferris wheel at the carnival, an exhilarating ride with little fanfare.  Round and round, up and down, but little to account for.

Both teams shooting woes was evident early.  Shot after shot did not find the bottom of the net.  Inside the ‘Den’, the first half scoring was as chilly as the on-going wind chill outside.  The rampant turnovers and lack of first half scoring by both teams, left many in attendance befuddled and the coaches frustrated with obvious concerns.  The score was knotted at 6-6 when Cami Robinson connected on a three pointer to give Nease the 9-6 advantage after one quarter. 

Nease managed only five points in the second quarter and trailed 14-18 at intermission. After a lackluster first half performance, the team was rapidly ushered off the court by Coach Anthony.  A defining moment and quick reminder of what happens when one does not focus or ahere to the best laid out game plans.  The Lady Panthers were a dismal 5/28 shooting, including 2/13 treys and only 2 free throw attempts.  In addition, the team committed 13 first half turnovers.

After an inspired half time speech from Hall of Fame coach Sherri Anthony and assistant Nicole Bence, one would expect a different level of commitment.  Obviously, this definitely was not the first rodeo for the ‘Dean of Girls High School Basketball’ (35th year). An energized third quarter effort from center Desi Robinson (5 points/6 rebs) and the steady offensive arsenal from 'do it all guard' Sydney Gomes (9 points/5 rebs), Nease took the third quarter honors (16-11) and held a slim 30-29 lead entering the final 8 minutes of play.  The stage was now set for a  whirlwind of action and anti-climatic moments for both teams.

St. Augustine opened the final period on a 5-0 run to capture the 34-30 lead, forcing a Nease timeout at 6:18 of the quarter.
A trey by Syd out of the timeout, cut the Lady Jackets lead to one (34-33).  St. Augustine responded by knocking down a couple long range shots to establish the biggest lead of the night (39-33) with 3:40 remaining on the clock.  The drama continued to build from here.  No one could have expected such a turnaround after an unsuspecting poor first half effort from both squads.  A real sense of nervous energy from the players and crowd  was evident with every possession.  The Lady Panthers bid to escape the Lady Jackets sting of defeat was compounded by excessive foul trouble ( 3 starters would eventually foul out).  Nease played the final 2 plus minutes of regulation without their starting front court (Alii Fifield and Desi Robinson) due to foul disqualification.

Back to the drama and the St. Johns County bragging rights.  Stephanie Manherz connected on a corner three, sandwiched between two free throws by St. Augustine. The score reflected a St. Augustine advantage (41-39) with 2:07 remaining.  The deficit would increase to 4 points (43-39) at 1:48.  Syd converted 1of 2 free throws and the score stood at 43-40 in favor of the Lady Jackets with 1:33 to go in regulation.  St. Augustine found itself in the double bonus, but failed to take advantage of the situation.  The Lady Jackets were unable to convert multiple free throws down the stretch, thus missing out on chances to ice the game.  As the clock ticked under 1:00 to play, senior guard Stephanie Manherz was true on a three pointer. to give Nease the lead (43-42).  With :12.7 seconds remaining, St. Augustine was fouled on a three point attempt and converted 2 out of 3 attempts to regain the lead (45-43).  Being a true clutch player, Syd scored an inside basket to tie the game (45-45) with :1.6 seconds remaining.  Can you say overtime!  Go big or go home.

As the teams gathered their second wind for the ‘thriller in the Den’, overtime would commence.  Almost halfway through overtime, neither team had scored.  St. Augustine would convert 2 of 4 free throws and Syd converted 1-2 charity attempts for Nease.  Stephanie  fouled out with the Lady Panthers trailing 46-47 and 2:01 left in OT. Nease was forced to call on a nervous looking bench to finish the game down the stretch.  A couple defensive assists by freshman forward Tika Kondebrolu, provided crucial possessions for Nease. The Lady Jackets would miss 2 free throws and Syd connected on a huge trey to put Nease up 49-47. 

Are your palms sweating?  How is your heart beat?  Ready or not, here we go again. St. Augustine made 1 out of 2 free throws and Nease held a one point margin 49-48 with under a minute to play. A quick St. Augustine basket and (50-49) lead was countered by a basket from Syd Gomes.  With 12.7 seconds remaining, Nease surged back ahead 51-50. The Lady Jackets failed to convert on their next possession and vintage Syd iced the game with 2 free throws for the B-I-G overtime victory (53-50).  Nease (7-1) won their fourth straight game and St. Augustine (5-1) fell from the ranks of the undefeated.

Nease needed every ounce of energy their leading scorer could muster on the night.  The ‘Matrix’ delivered with a multi-facet effort.  Sydney Gomes produced a night for the ages with a phenomenal double-double (35 points and 15 rebounds).  She scored all of Nease OT points, single-handedly outscoring St. Augustine 8-5 in the extra period.  Stephanie Manherz finished with 6 points (2 big treys) and 5 rebounds, while Desi Robinson chipped in with 5 points and 10 big rebounds (7 offensive).  Cami Robinson completed the scoring with 7 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. The Lady Panthers face off with another St.Augustine resident on back to back nights.  Menendez (Lady Falcons) steps into the ‘Den’  on Tuesday, hoping to catch the Lady Panthers napping.  Not!             


Nease High School Basketball

10550 Ray Rd 
Ponte Vedra, Florida 32081

Phone: 904-547-8300

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