With the help of a running clock for most of the second half, Nease made quick work of Ocala Forest, overpowering the Wildcats 67-18 in a Region 1-7A girls basketball quarterfinal Thursday night at the Nease gym.
Now the No.1-ranked Class 7A team is ready for the next step as it tries to win its second state championship.
“I’m just so excited to see that what we did in practice came forth,” said Nease coach Sherri Anthony. “We did a really great job staying true to what we practiced.”
The Panthers (24-3) won their 13th game in a row. After jumping out to a 40-15 halftime lead, they went up by 35 with 4:03 left in the third quarter to force the running clock.
Nease was led by 6-foot-3 center Camille Hobby. The junior scored 15 of her 17 points in the first half. Hobby also showed her physical presence on defense with 10 rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals.
Peyton Carter added 11 points and 12 rebounds. Karissa Niles hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points, and Kiya Turner added nine points and dished out eight assists.
“We are just really happy to be able to play,” said Hobby. “Someone on our AAU team was a part of the Florida shooting (at Douglas High in Parkland on Wednesday) and we wanted to go out and get the W for her and her teammates.”
Carter scored nine of her points in a third-quarter flurry as the Panthers held the Wildcats scoreless in the quarter.
“We were really focused and we knew what we had to do,” Niles said. “We prepared and did our best as a team.”
Anthony was pleased with how the backups, led by seniors Madison Bonazelli and Lani Meiser, performed in the second half.
“Our second group in there at the end did a great job and remained focused,” she said.
Nease will now turn its attention to Tuesday’s regional semifinals. The Panthers will host Gainesville, a 72-46 winner over St. Augustine on Thursday.
“Now when you are in the playoffs you have to focus on what that team brings to the table,” Anthony said. “It’s not the regular season and now you are playing the cream of the crop.”
Anthony’s Panthers won the state title in 1999.