Benjamin ended the regular season on a high note Tuesday.
The No. 4 Buccaneers (19-2) traveled down to Boca Raton and handled St. Andrew’s (13-5) with ease, picking up a 50-31 win, in which they never trailed, to end their regular season.
“We made a deal with ourselves to try to go undefeated the second half of the season,” Benjamin coach Willie Shelton II said. “We took two tough losses early, and we finished undefeated.
“Now we’ve got to win out. Our plan is stay undefeated, and if that’s the case, we’ll end up state champions.”
The Buccaneers came out strong, dominating on both sides of the court. They jumped out to a 20-5 lead, thanks in large part to senior Da’Mya Preston’s 10-point first quarter.
On the defensive side of the ball, Benjamin forced numerous turnovers and kept St. Andrew’s from taking good shots. The Buccaneers finished the game with 16 steals. Freshman Deborrah Redmon had nine of them.
“Defensive pressure early really helped,” Shelton said. “We put a lot of pressure on their guards; they really couldn’t get into any of their half-court sets.”
St. Andrew’s came close to making a comeback as Benjamin struggled in the second quarter. But the closest the Scots got to the Bucs was a six-point deficit. Five points from sophomore Emma Laszewski to end the quarter put a stop to the comeback attempt.
Laszewski had 13 points Tuesday, while Preston led the team with 21.
“Being a senior, and this is the end of her career at Benjamin, I think she’s starting to realize that she wants to leave with a big emphasis on the program,” Shelton said.
The Buccaneers now set their eyes on the District 5-4A tournament, where they will be the favorite. They did not lose to a district team all season. The issue could come later, when they run into the Miami Country Day team that eliminated them from the postseason last season.
“When we came in, we started with a bad season (in Preston’s) freshman year,” Shelton said. We were 8-10. Now we’ve finally got a chance to get to states, so I think she’s trying to push that before she gets out of school.”