Milton scored the game’s first seven points and never looked back, snapping Navarre’s modest three-game basketball winning streak with a 43-33 district win Friday on the Lady Raiders’ home court.
“We didn’t play well, we didn’t shoot well, we didn’t defend well, we didn’t do a lot of things well,” Navarre coach Greg Boozer said after the game. “I’m disappointed for the girls, especially our seniors. They deserved a better result.”
Navarre High School recognized seniors Lydia Brunet, Kaitlyn Johnson, Natasha Page, Jessica Reyes and Hannah Worden, who were playing their last home games as Lady Raiders. (PHOTO: Hannah Worden tries to pass the ball in to Nadia Fingall while Lydia Brunet cuts down the lane from the opposite side of the lane.)
Foul trouble disrupted the Raiders’ normal substitution pattern and Navarre’s players struggled to find any offensive rhythm.
“We don’t play great from behind anyway,” Boozer said.
Freshman Nadia Fingall made the first basket of the second half to pull Navarre within a point, 15-14, but the Panthers scored 10 straight to reclaim a comfortable cushion. The Raiders couldn’t get closer than six points the rest of the way.
Fingall and classmate De’Naizha Elder led Navarre with seven points each and Worden added six on a pair of three-pointers.
Tianna Novacic led all scorers with 13 points and Ashley Johnson added 11 for Milton.
The Lady Raiders were scheduled to play at Niceville on Tuesday and will end their regular season tonight, Thursday Jan. 24, at Gulf Breeze. The junior varsity girls will play at 4:30 p.m., to be followed by the varsity girls at 6 p.m. The district tournament is scheduled Jan. 28-Feb. 2 at Pace.
Navarre 41, Escambia 32
Kiera Foster converted a traditional three-point play and Hannah Worden calmly made a pair of free throws in the final 61 seconds to thwart a desperate Gator rally and help Navarre seal its third-straight win, 41-32.
Escambia trailed by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter but clawed their way to within five points, 34-29, with just more than two minutes left to play. The Raiders’ defense, which had held the Gators scoreless for more than nine minutes in the first half to help Navarre build its lead, settled in and neither team scored until Foster was pushed making a layup with 1:01 left. She made the free throw to give the Raiders a comfortable 37-29 lead and, on Navarre’s next possession, Worden was fouled and swished both charities. Nadia Fingal and Jessica Reyes each made free throws in the final seconds.
Fingall led all scorers with 14 points and Worden was the only other player to score in double-digits with 11.
Fans wore heavy winter coats and huddled under blankets at Escambia’s Norman G. Ross Gymnasium. Custodians started the cooling system earlier in the week, when temperatures were unseasonably warm, but couldn’t get the air conditioners to stop after a mid-week cold spell.
Navarre 45, Gulf Breeze 23
Shelby Kesinger scored all nine of her points – three breakaway layups and a three-pointer – in the decisive third quarter of the Raiders’ 45-23 win against visiting rival Gulf Breeze on Jan. 15.
Both teams struggled to score in the first half, but Navarre’s press and crisp passing created several easy baskets in the third quarter, when the Raiders stretched their lead from four points at halftime to 16 after three quarters. Six-foot two freshman Nadia Fingall scored eight of her game-high 16 points in the final period. Navarre also made five three-pointers, two by Hannah Worden, in a balanced offensive attack.
Shelby Pliska led the Dolphins with 10 points.