LECANTO — Pressured and swarmed all night, the Seven Rivers Christian girls basketball team eventually buckled, ending its season with a 67-26 loss to North Florida Educational Institute in the Class 2A regional quarterfinals Thursday.
The Warriors (15-9) couldn’t withstand the man-to-man coverage and double teams the Eagles (17-3) threw their way. The team was forced into numerous turnovers and had difficulty getting into the paint against a taller and faster opponent.
When the Warriors tied the game 2-2 after the Eagles converted off the opening jump ball, it would be the closest they’d get to the lead. Though they only trailed by 10 points after the first quarter, the Eagles opened things up in the second quarter and continued soaring from there.
Warriors head coach Gary Dreyer said the team failed to make some midrange and close-in shots that would have narrowed the lead. Ultimately, he said the Eagles played great defense and when they started putting up points, it was too much.
“Really, what it boils down to, is they just started that run and we couldn’t stop them. The girls put out a great effort; there’s nothing to be ashamed of,” he said.
With the Warriors trailing 18-8 after the first quarter, the Eagles stepped their intensity up, building a 39-18 lead by halftime. Things didn’t get any better for the home team at that point, with only eight more points added to the scoreboard from there.
Jaidy Mejia led the Eagles with 20 points and 7 assists, using her size and speed to make quick drives to the hoop for layups, while other times passing the ball out to teammates. She also showed her range with two deep 3-pointers.
With three players over 6-feet tall, the Eagles used their size to haul in rebounds and tally second-chance points. They also earned several trips to the foul line with aggressive drives to the basket.
The Warriors weren’t without their hustle, including a play early in the second quarter where a scramble near the sideline for a loose ball had Emily Jekabsons dish the ball out to Joy Sullivan for a deep 2-pointer.
Sullivan finished with nine points, including a 3-pointer, as well as a steal.
After earning a trip to the regional tournament after a tight 52-50 district championship win over St. John Lutheran, Dreyer said the loss will not define the season for his team.
“I’m proud of what we accomplished this year,” he continued. “Winning the district championship is not necessarily what everyone thought was going to happen.”