By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE – Celia Baermann had herself a night.
The Pirates’ junior forward recorded a double-double with 27 points and 11 rebounds to go along with two blocks to lead Port Charlotte High School to a 55-26 win over DeSoto County at home Monday night. Janae Dennard added 11 points, six rebounds and six assists on a night as the Pirates quickly turned a six-point lead at the end of the first quarter into a 24-point advantage at halftime.
Baermann scored 16 of her points in the second quarter as Port Charlotte went on a 16-0 run to pull away from DeSoto County, which won the teams’ first meeting this season 36-31 on Dec. 1. Her 27 points were also her season-high.
“Celia is such a smart kid and is a hard-worker. She busts her butt every game. Every game. I’m so pleased to be able to coach her,” Port Charlotte coach Kevin Purcell said.
“She got [a lot of those points] in different locations too. I know she likes to step out and shoot that three. That’s one of her favorite things but she can create everywhere. Her mid-game shot tonight was on.”
Baermann’s teammates also made things easier for her. Ashlyn Henderson, Gerda Guerrier, Sariah Dempaire and Dennard all had assists in the second quarter as Baermann continually cut to the basket for uncontested layups while DeSoto County failed to adjust.
Henderson finished with six points while Guerrier finished with five. But it was Guerrier’s defense with seven steals – four in the second quarter – that sparked Baermann’s offensive burst.
“My teammates make it easy every night,” Baermann said. “It’s always good to have them there with me because I can always rely on them if I’m having an off night and they’re having a good night. It was great tonight because I feel like we were all kind of clicking at once. It’s nice when that happens.”
Tigeona Hatcher led the Bulldogs with 11 points, five coming in the fourth quarter with a running clock. The Bulldogs doomed themselves with turnovers, as the Pirates finished with 15 steals, and they scored just one field goal in the third quarter.
DeSoto County also had a scoring drought of over six minutes in the second quarter while Port Charlotte blew the game open.
“Coach just said to go out there and just play tough like you know how to play because we really do focus a lot on defense, especially in practices,” Baermann said. “We know that we can really sit down and play a team if we really just get at it and stick with it all night.”
The Pirates led by as many as 35, triggering a running clock 20 seconds into the fourth quarter when a free throw by Brianna White gave them a 51-26 lead. When the Bulldogs weren’t turning the ball over or missing shots from the field, they were missing shots from the free throw line where they went just 2-for-20.
Needless to say, there wasn’t much for Purcell to complain about after the win.
“I liked how we played team basketball tonight, to be honest with you,” Purcell said. “I thought we made some on-court adjustments that we couldn’t make before because we’re just not there developmentally and mentally. I thought we made some of those tonight and really reacted to those and took advantage of those. I’m really pleased with that.”
PORT CHARLOTTE 55, DESOTO COUNTY 26
DeSoto County 7 6 3 10 – 26
Port Charlotte 13 24 13 5 – 55
DeSoto County (26): Tigeona Hatcher 11, Richardson 6, Lorraine 3, Walker 3, Harris 2, Luther 1. Totals: 11 (2) 2-20 26.
Port Charlotte (55): Celia Baermann 27, Janae Dennard 11, Henderson 6, Guerrier 5, Livingston 2, Lombardo 2, Dempaire 1, White 1. Totals: 21 (0) 13-24.