There are many adjectives to describe the St. Augustine girls basketball team.
They are tall, fast, and skilled.
All three were on display on Thursday night in a 73-37 win at Gainesville High in an FHSAA Class 6A-Region 1 Quarterfinal at The Purple Palace.
“I just saw a lot of good basketball on their behalf,” said Gainesville coach David Gordon. “I think we got kind of shell shocked, maybe a little intimidated after they started the game, and we never got our composure until probably the third quarter. But when you’re down by 20, it’s hard to come back.”
St. Augustine’s Emily McIntosh, who finished with a game-high 21 points, scored with 4:42 to play in the opening quarter for an 11-0 lead, followed by a bucket from Aniyah Fisher (12 points) less than a minute later for a 13-0 lead.
“No composure,” Gordon said. “I think we were too edgy. Looking at their size versus just playing basketball.”
Gainesville’s Leyah Houston scored the Hurricanes’ first point on a free throw to make it 13-1.
However, it was the long-range shooting of Yellow Jackets’ guard Veronica Hannah that would help sink the Hurricanes (14-8).
Hannah hit back-to-back 3s for a 19-3 lead. She finished with four 3-pointers.
St. Augustine (22-1), which is ranked third in the regional rankings, had four players in double figures.
After building a 32-16 lead at the half, Janiyah Jackson (15 points) scored seven in the third quarter and Hannah (16 points) added five as the lead grew to 31 points with 25 seconds left in the quarter.
Houston, who had seven of Gainesville’s 16 first-half points, led GHS in scoring with 14 points. The junior was also 6-for-8 at the free throw line.
“Leyah always comes ready to play,” Gordon said. “She plays hard the entire time. She still has another year behind her, and we’re losing four seniors, so we’ve got a nucleus of players that can come back and do some good things if they choose to do that. You’ve got to work on your craft over the summer.”
That includes Ta’Niya Walker, a junior, who was next with eight points.
Despite the season coming to an end, Gordon thought his team did well this year.
“With all the young kids that we had on the team, we weren’t able to field a JV team this year so we had a lot of freshmen,” said Gordon, whose team beat Columbia (Lake City) last week to win the 6A-District 3 title. “And you throw them out there in the fire, they’ve got to learn. So hopefully this learning experience is going to carry over for the next couple of years.”
REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS – Thursday, Feb. 10
No. 5 St. Augustine 73, No. 4 Gainesville 37
No. 1 Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) 81, No. 8 Keystone Heights 21
No. 4 Foundation Academy (Winter Garden) 62, No. 5 P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) 58
No. 3 Munroe (Quincy) 40, No. 6 Oak Hall (Gainesville) 24
No. 1 Wildwood 61, No. 4 Newberry 22