By Dave Brousseau
LAKELAND – The four-year championship drought has expired.
Miami High pieced together strong outing on Saturday to defeat Tampa Plant 63-38 for the Class 7A girls state basketball title at the RP Funding Center.
After the falling the past two seasons in the state final, the Stingarees (27-5) won their first since 2015 and fourth overall since 2004 after losing in the final the last two seasons.
“This feels so great,” said Miami High coach Rob Baumgarten. “We did it the right way with no close game this year. This was a great way for the seniors to go out.”
Jeannie Scott scored 22 points and Colleen Bucknor added 21 points to lead Miami.
The Panthers, with minimal momentum on their side had a mini run that cut the deficit to 13 points squashed when Scott sank a 3-pointer with 2:05 left in the third quarter building the lead back to 36-20.
Miami was quite efficient offensively in the second half. They shot 50-percent from the field and 83-percent from the free throw line.
The Stingarees built a 31-12 halftime lead with after a 20-4 second quarter, that included an 18-0 run.
Kiara Cruz converted back-to-back 3-pointers as the half was expiring to help push the Miami lead to 19 points. The Stingarees just did a strong job denying the Panthers from any good looks at the basket.
Overall Miami shot 50-percent from the floor in the half, while the defense stymied Plant by holding them to 4 of 19 at just 21-percent.
MIAMI 63, PLANT 38
MH (27-5): Bucknor 6-9-21, Scott 6-9-22, Whitley 2-0-6, Quinn 1-0-2, Cruz 3-2-10, Nguyen 1-0-2.
P (30-2): Cheesman 5-3-16, Sieper 2-0-4, Farfante 0-6-6, Culpepper 1-0-2, Jean 3-3-10.
3-pointers: Whitley 2, Cruz 2, Scott, Cheesman 3, Jean. Half: MH 31-12.