By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
ENGLEWOOD — The Venice High School girls basketball team presented Lemon Bay many opportunities to win on Monday night.
Instead of capitalizing on those opportunities, the Manta Rays gave them right back to the Indians.
An Indian turnover would be followed by a Manta Ray turnover. When Venice would miss an easy layup, the Manta Rays would miss one, too.
Eventually, the Indians controlled their mistakes and went on for a big 57-35 win.
“We got off to a rough start. We knew they were going to pressure us real hard, but we just didn’t come out strong with the ball,” Lemon Bay coach Mike Young said. “Once we calmed down, we cut it to five points, had our chances at the foul line. We just didn’t take care of the ball tonight.”
The two teams combined for 61 turnovers in the game, as Lemon Bay forced 14 Indian turnovers in the first quarter. All those turnovers allowed the Manta Rays to stay in the game for a while, but once Talee Howard and Anna Featherson began to heat up, the Indians (5-17) pulled away.
Howard did a little bit of everything, with 15 points – 12 in the second and third quarter – while adding seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Featherson scored 10 points, but also had six steals to lead the way for 33 Lemon Bay turnovers.
“We did not take care of the ball at all, but I think our pressure forced them to turn it over, as well,” Venice coach Jim Davis said. “In the second half I thought we played a little bit better and we started finishing our shots and trapping really well.”
Breanna Nelson was one of the few Manta Rays (11-11) to have success early in the night, scoring all 12 of her points in the first half. But with those points also came three fouls, which limited her in the second half.
Francesca Gallucci took over for Lemon Bay in the second half, scoring 12 of her team-high 13 points in the final 16 minutes. Gallucci scored the first of those 12 points in the opening minute of the third quarter, but then the Manta Rays went nearly seven minutes without a point, allowing Venice to take a 20-point lead.
In three different quarters Lemon Bay went four or more minutes without scoring a point. Dominique Mamalis had six points, and Kelsey Hansen was held scoreless but had five rebounds.
VENICE 57, LEMON BAY 37
Venice 16 17 14 10 — 57
Lemon Bay 11 12 5 9 — 37
Venice (57): Talee Howard 15, Alexa Hann 10, Anna Featherson 10, Miranda Hoffer 10, Mischak 7, Corry 2, Mamana 2, Hendricks 1. Totals: 21(3) 11-21 57.
Lemon Bay (37): Francesca Gallucci 13, Breanna Nelson 12, Mamalis 6, Maheu 2, Baker 2. Totals: 10(0) 17-27 37.