Hawthorne advances to title game

Basketball hoop

The first half of Wednesday night’s FHSAA Class 1A state semifinal was not what Hawthorne girls basketball coach Cornelius Ingram was looking for from his team.

That all changed in the third quarter.

Led by another huge effort from sophomore De’Mya Adams, the Hornets will play for their second state title in four years on Friday night.

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Adams scored 10 of her game-high 20 points in the third quarter as Hawthorne took the lead halfway through that period and never looked back in beating Ponce De Leon, 50-45, at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

“She was aggressive in the second half,” Ingram said. “For having a lot of talent and ability, I don’t think she knows how special she is right now. She’s very young but she’s able to score anywhere on the floor and when she gets going we are a better team.”

The first half was a struggle for Hawthorne offensively.

The Hornets fell behind 13-8 at the end of the first quarter and trailed 16-9 early in the second period.
But junior Lakijah Brown (9 points) hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Hawthorne cut the deficit to 18-17 at the half.

“When we got into halftime I told my girls we weren’t playing our game,” Ingram said. “We hit four threes in the first half and we may not have hit four three-pointers in a game all season. But the team was able to get out into transition in the second half and play our game.”

In the first part of the third quarter, Ponce De Leon (20-4) maintained a lead behind eight straight points from junior forward Michaela Cruz-Findley.

But senior Jaz’lyn Jackson (13 points) hit a trey and Adams followed with two more shots from distance in a row, as the Hornets went on a 17-6 run to take a 37-30 lead into the final period.

Ponce De Leon did cut the deficit to 37-34 early in the fourth quarter, but Brown capped a 7-0 run with another three-pointer to extend the Hornets’ lead to 44-34 and they cruised from there.

“Everyone gave us something,” Ingram said. “With Jazz coming off an ankle injury (in the region final against Newberry) we took our time with her in practice. She was able to come out and help us with some great rebounds and scoring, and great passes in transition.”

Hawthorne (14-5) will play Wildwood at 7 p.m. on Friday in the 1A state title game.

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