Palm Beach Lakes almost let its second consecutive district title get away.
The third-ranked Rams, who have lost only two games all season (and only one to a Palm Beach County opponent), fell behind by 10 points early on Saturday, but they came back to take down West Boca Raton 51-45 and claim the District 13-8A crown.
“It was a struggle, and we fought back and kept digging,” Rams coach Cassandra Rahming said. “I’m just proud of them. They never gave up, even down 10 points.”
West Boca battled with Lakes the whole game, with the lead changing six times.
The Bulls looked their best in the second quarter, exploiting a struggling Rams offense and going on a 10-0 run in the second quarter. Asia Jones led the way during West Boca’s strong first half, scoring 10 points in the first two quarters.
“Honestly, it was all us,” Rahming said. “I think we couldn’t make a basket. We got all the shots that we wanted; they just didn’t drop.”
But the Rams kept from panicking. They stuck with the Bulls, and at the end of the third quarter, they pulled back ahead.
“Just got to stay with it, find the positive in everything,” Rahming said. “In the fact that we were still playing hard, playing good defense.”
Lakes went on a run of its own, going ahead 41-33 early in the third quarter, but West Boca fought back with a 10-2 run to tie the game at 43.
Sophomore Keishmy Ayuso, who led the Rams with 17 points, scored four in the fourth quarter, and the last two proved crucial.
Late in the fourth quarter, with West Boca matching Lakes shot-for-shot, Ayuso scored to give the Rams a four-point lead. Shikal Gillion scored for the Bulls to make it a one-score game again, but from there, West Boca had to start fouling. Ra’Shara Simmons and Remi Halyard made all four of their foul shots to secure the win for Lakes.
“She played her butt off,” Rahming said of Ayuso. “She made a lot of things happen, not bouncing big shots, made some big plays. She’s a really good ballplayer.”
The Rams will face Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas in the regional quarterfinals Thursday, and the Bulls will face Pompano Beach-Blanche Ely.
Oxbridge Academy 74, Pinecrest-Gulliver Prep 67: Troy Joseph scored 13 points and A.J. Cajuste added 10 as the ThunderWolves held on to win in West Palm Beach.