BAKER — Mikala Moore was money in the bank for the Holmes County girls basketball team Friday as the Blue Devils took on Baker in District 2-1A play.
Moore scored a game-high 22 points hitting six 3-point baskets to lead the Blue Devils to a 60-39 win over the Gators.
Moore got off to a fast start hitting her first 3-pointers less than a minute into the game to give Holmes County a very early 3-2 lead.
The Gators (6-5, 1-3) responded with baskets by Cassidy Anderson and Bethany Chestnut as Baker took the lead at 4-3 at the 4:59 mark of the first quarter. But Moore was just getting warmed up as she hit her next 3-pointer to put the Blue Devils up 6-4 with 4:29 left in the first quarter.
Holmes County led the rest of the game using a full-court zone press defense and timely shooting on the offensive end of the floor to keep the Gators at a safe distance the rest of the night.
Baker coach Brian Wagner wasn’t surprised by the Blue Devil pressure defense that kept the Gators on their heels most of the night.
“We knew going in they were going to be able to bring pressure and the question was, ‘Would we be able to answer the call?’” he said. “And we didn’t answer the call very well.
“Another thing is we missed easy shots. When we improve that we are going to be a very, very good team. We are a pretty good team now, but we can be a very good team and play with Bonifay, Ponce de Leon, Chipley and the teams that we play, it’s going to have to take that (make easy shots) to make that happen.”
Back-to-back baskets by Cierra Davis and Courtney Syfrett extended the Blue Devil lead to 10-4 with a little less than three minutes left in the first quarter. Anderson scored again for Baker to pull the Gators to within four points of Holmes County, but that’s as close as Baker got the rest of the way.
The Blue Devils led 17-8 at the end of the first quarter and 27-17 at the half.
A 2-pointer by Chestnut with 7:03 left in the third quarter got the Gators to within seven points of the Blue Devils at 29-22, Four quick points by Holmes County pushed the lead back to double digits and the Blue Devils coasted to the win.
Anderson led Baker with 14 points. Lily Phillips added eight points, Chestnut seven points and Kathryn Quigg chipped in six points.
Wagner is confident with a few breaks here and there the Gators can compete and defend their district championship.
“You can see when we take care of the basketball and make the easy buckets we are very hard to play,” he said. “When you don’t do those things it’s tough.
“A wise coach told me one time that when you coach girls you are going to have to worry about two things. They are going to miss some easy buckets and they are going to throw the ball away. It’s your job as the coach to try and prevent that from happening and so far I haven’t done it.”
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524