Lady Spartans’ roll stopped in district final

By Randy Lefko
Posted 2/14/18

ORANGE PARK – St. Johns Country Day School’s girls basketball team lost lead scorer Kendall Sage two weeks ago to a broken hand and head coach Yolanda Bronston asked a simple question?

“Are …

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Lady Spartans’ roll stopped in district final

Posted

ORANGE PARK – St. Johns Country Day School’s girls basketball team lost lead scorer Kendall Sage two weeks ago to a broken hand and head coach Yolanda Bronston asked a simple question?

“Are we a team?” said Bronston, who later guided the Lady Spartans to a semifinal district 2-3A berth that wound up a fourth quarter comeback victory that put the team into the district final. St. Johns (15-7 overall) has a limited history of post-season play with 2001 (lost 71-14 to University Christian in region quarters) the last year in the region playoffs after a 1986 Class 1A sectional berth (lost 50-33 to Luther of Orlando) with present athletic director Traci Livingston a freshman point guard. “This team won one game last year and I was assistant boys basketball coach. When I took over, I had to teach them how to win.”

In the district final on Saturday, against the defending district 2-3A champion Trinity Christian Academy of Deltona (13-9) that featured two inside players above 6-foot-1, one averaging 16 points per game, St. Johns was severely at a disadvantage, even if Sage was able to play, and lost 60-38. Bronston received gallant defensive efforts from eighth grader Kinley Hall and seventh grader Semaj Williams on the two Trinity inside players.

St. Johns now travels as the district runnerup to play North Florida Christian of Tallahassee (14-9) in the region 1-3A semifinal on Thurs., Feb. 15. North Florida Christian was district 1-3A runnerup last year and lost their region semifinal to Trinity Christian of Deltona.

In the district semifinal against St. Francis Catholic, the Lady Spartans were driven by freshman guard Maggie Kent who led an inspired effort to St. Johns’ 49-34 win after the third quarter ended with the Spartans up by just one point, 30-29.

From the whistle starting the fourth quarter, St. Johns got a quick steal from Hall that led to a layup and free throw from Kyla Hartwell for a three-point burst.

Hall would convert an offensive rebound in front of a Kent three-pointer as St. Johns pushed their lead to 37-31 with 4:35 left in the game.

A layup for Lea Hartwell and two free throws for Kyla Hartwell tacked on to a 41-31 lead with 3:13 to go and the Spartan gym sensing a bit of history.

Hall again came to the rescue with a rebound and jumper to push two more on the scoreboard.

With 2:38 left in the game, though, St. Johns stalled somewhat and St. Francis hit a three-pointer to close the scoring a bit forcing Bronston to call a time out.

“I told them that a lot can happen with 1:51 left on the clock and if they played sloppy and St. Francis’ shooters got hot, it would be a different ending,” said Bronston. St. Johns responded with Williams and Kent both getting layups to end the game at 49-34.

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