By Dave Brousseau
FORT LAUDERDALE – No half-court game-winning shot could save the Dillard girls basketball team this go-around.
Instead, St. Thomas Aquinas convincingly defeated the Panthers 60-43 on Tuesday at home behind 17 points from senior guard Bella LaChance.
The 17-point margin of victory was the largest by a Broward opponent over Dillard since the Panthers 21-point loss (69-48) to Northeast in the Class 6A state title game in 2016.
As a reminder of the last time these teams met, Genovea Johnson sank a game-winning 3-pointer from just inside half court at the buzzer, lifting Dillard to a 60-58 thriller in the girls BCAA Big 8 championship game.
Aquinas (11-4) made no doubt who the better team was on Tuesday as they outscored the Panthers 28-11 in the first quarter.
“It was our best first quarter of the year,” said St. Thomas Aquinas coach Oliver Berens. “The focus for us was to get off to a quick start. We didn’t want to give Dillard the belief they could win this game.”
The Panthers (11-5) had been 21-1 against Broward opponents dating back to last season. Including Tuesday’s setback, both losses came to Aquinas.
“We let ourselves down defensively,” said Dillard coach Marcia Pinder. “Our defensive rotation let us down. They outrebounded us and they got second shots that really made the difference.”
Dillard made a serious push to cut the deficit on 10 points midway through the third quarter, but Samara Spencer’s three baskets later in the quarter squelched any comeback thoughts.
Breanna Gustave added 13 points and Spencer 12 points for the Raiders.
Dillard was led by Chynna Mattair and Sequoia Emmanuel with 11 points each.
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 60, DILLARD 43
D (11-5): Christia 3-2-8, Mattair 4-1-11, Emmanuel 3-5-11, Ling 2-0-5, Boyce 1-0-2, Harris 2-2-6.
STA (11-4): LaChance 5-6-17, Williams 1-0-2, Spencer 5-2-12, Irvin 3-0-8, Green 4-0-8, Gustave 5-0-13.
3-pointers: Gustave 3, Irvin 2, LaChance, Mattiar 2, Ling. Half: STA 37-23.