Lake Placid senior point guard Alex Coyne torched the nets for a game-high 24 points to lead the Green Dragons to a 63-39 demolition of Tampa Catholic in the Class 4A-Region 3 semifinals on Tuesday night.
Lake Placid jumped in front by 18 points at halftime and never looked back in rolling to the one-sided victory over the stunned Crusaders in a packed and noisy gymnasium. The Green Dragons play in the regional finals at Fort Myers Dunbar on Saturday night.
"We did fantastic," said second-year Lake Placid girls basketball coach Jackie Coyne. "We were in foul trouble, but our bench came through and it was a team effort.
"I couldn't be prouder of the girls, and the crowd was so loud it motivated us to play harder and was a real advantage."
Lake Placid, known as a second-half team, came out clicking on all cylinders to start the contest. Senior forward Bria Wilson bulled her way for four of her 11 points in the paint and Coyne added eight, including a pair of 3-pointers, to give the Green Dragons a 16-6 lead heading into the second quarter.
"We executed our offense and moved the ball well," Coach Coyne said. "We applied a lot of defensive pressure on Tampa Catholic and kind of took them out of their game."
The Green Dragons used a full-court-press in the second quarter to force numerous Crusader turnovers, which were converted into easy baskets.
Quiahja Williams was a monster on the glass with 11 rebounds, and the freshman scored six of her 10 points to help build the lead to 31-13 at the half.
Tampa Catholic tried to make a run in the third quarter as forward Danielle Battle scored eight of her team-high 19 points and guard Brittany Betts added five of her 15.
Lake Placid answered as Wilson scored seven points and Coyne ended the quarter by drilling a 3-pointer as the crowd erupted to make it 45-26 heading into the final eight minutes.
"Alex played tough," Coach Coyne said. "She understands the game, took excellent care of the ball and did a good job of getting the ball inside to Bria, Raveen Gobourne and Breauna Corley."
The Green Dragons made sure there would be know miraculous rally by Tampa Catholic as Shaquaiva Gayle scored four of her seven points and Coyne added 10, including a pair behind the arc to seal the victory and move Lake Placid one win from the state Final Four.
"I knew we had a special team when the season started," said Alex Coyne. "I knew we were going to be successful, I just didn't know how much.
"We played great defense, the crowd got us going and I appreciate and cherish every second on the court."
Lake Placid, which improved to 20-5 on the season, takes on Dunbar on Saturday night with the winner going to the state Final four.
Dunbar knocked off Lincoln Park by a score of 74-61 on Tuesday.
"We know Dunbar is a good team, but we're improving and peaking at the right time," said Alex Coyne.
No girls basketball team from Highlands County has ever gone this far in the state playoffs and the Green Dragons are on an impressive run.
"We've had a wonderful season and we're playing our best basketball," Coach Coyne said. "The kids have responded and bought into what we're trying to accomplish.
"We're used to being on the road, we have nothing to lose and we're going to enjoy the ride as long as it lasts."