LIVE OAK — Mixing in a full-court press, half-court traps and an aggressive man-to-man defense, the Suwannee High girls basketball team caused havoc against a talented Bradford team on Tuesday.
That defensive effort pushed SHS to a 44-33 home victory. It was an important win for the Bulldogs considering they lost to Bradford by 21 points earlier in the season.
“That’s our biggest win,” said Suwannee coach Brian Bullock. “It seems like everything is coming together at the right time for us.
“We like to play aggressive, physical. The officials were letting us play. That fared well for us.”
Suwannee’s defense was especially tough in the first half. SHS had nine steals and held Bradford to 3 of 18 shooting to take a 17-10 lead into the half.
Kalle Herring, who was celebrated before the game along with Savannah Shannon for Senior Night, had a team-best five steals. Herring also contributed eight points on what was a balanced scoring night for Suwannee.
Six players scored at least five points. Junior Jayda Bernard came off the bench to lead the team in scoring, making four 3-pointers on her way to 14 points. With Bradford trying to make a comeback late in the third quarter, Bernard connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to give Suwannee a 30-16 lead with 2:45 left in the period.
“Jayda Bernard has a lot of confidence in her shot. She’s our best 3-point shooter,” said Bullock. “We expect her to hit those shots when it’s open.”
Montaysia Jones led Suwannee on the boards with 11 rebounds. She also had five points. Janyah Alicea contributed six points while V’kaylynn Ward had five points.
The Bulldogs improved to 9-12 on the season while the Tornadoes are now 14-8.
Peaking at the right time
The Bulldogs picked up a quality win heading into the district tournament, which starts on Monday. Suwannee hosts Baker County in that district tournament opener.
Dangerous at playoff time
Suwannee has the right pieces to make a run in the district tournament and advance to the state playoffs. They’ve got speed and scoring ability with Alicea (11 points, 4 steals per game), a strong post presence with Jones (6 points, 9 rebounds per game), an all-around talent in Herring (12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals) and a shooter with Bernard.
“If we play smart and take care of the ball, this team can go far and possibly win a district championship. Our game plan is to get out and run, force teams to turn the ball over and play aggressive.”