There was no denying the extra motivation that came into play for Friday night’s girls basketball rematch between University High and Brusly.
U-High, which dropped a first-round District 7-3A game to Brusly three weeks ago, played with the intensity of a cornered tiger, and the Cubs went on to post an 86-44 win at U-High.
Brusly (18-8, 7-2) led 1-0, and then it was all U-High. The Cubs (22-2, 8-1) took a 47-20 lead into halftime, and never looked back.
“(The girls) had so much intensity,” U-High coach Bonita Johnson said. “They had been waiting for this game since they lost the first one.
“They were prepared. They didn’t take things for granted, and I think they learned a lesson from the last time.”
Destiny Ephrom led four Cubs in double figures with 20 points. Kaila Anderson (17), Alanie Fisher (12) and Mikayla Bates (11) also helped lead the way as 11 Cubs scored.
Brusly was topped by Caitlyn Williams’ 10 points and searched all game for an offensive rhythm. The Panthers shot 31 percent from the field and made 26 turnovers.
“We did not come out with the intensity of the first game,” Brusly coach Shaeeta Williams said. “U-High was very aggressive, and unfortunately we didn’t match that. It showed on the scoreboard.”
In the first, Brusly’s Shandricka Pierson hit a jumper to pull the Panthers’ within 7-5. U-High responded with a 17-6 run to take a 24-11 lead. Chelsea Verrett made a 3-pointer and five free throws to spark the run. U-High extended the lead to 31-15 in the second. Brusly went more than two minutes without scoring, and the lead grew to 45-18 with less than a minute to go in the half on Bates’ steal and layup.
Bates made her three 3-pointers in the second quarter.
For the half, U-High made 17 of 32 from the field and 9 of 12 free throws.
“To me, the game seemed so long because we were playing with such intensity,” Johnson said. “We were really focused, and we wanted to make a statement.”
One of the biggest pluses for U-High was the play of Fisher, who appeared to be at full speed after a knee injury last summer.
“It makes our bench even bigger, and that’s going to be a factor in the long run,” Johnson said. “Everybody goes 100 percent, and when they need a breather, somebody else goes in.”
In the second half, U-High’s lead grew to as much as 43 points; 80-37 with three minutes left. For Williams, it meant that U-High deserved credit for their inspired play Friday, but nothing more.
“A lot of people thought (the first win) might have been a fluke, and tonight would make people believe that,” Williams said. “We know it wasn’t because of the intensity we played with in that game. But I don’t want to make excuses for tonight. We’ll learn from this.”
U-High (boys) 82, Brusly 51: U-High led 39-30 at halftime, and went on to post an impressive win. D.J. White topped the Cubs (22-3, 8-0) with 23 points. Skylar Mays added 20, and Wayde Sims had 10.
U-High weathered the loss of coach Joe Spencer, who was ejected with 41 seconds left in the third quarter. Spencer was hit with two technical fouls while protesting a call.
It didn’t matter as U-High was on top 56-44 going into the fourth, and never let the Panthers cut the lead to single digits. Brusly (16-8, 4-4), was led by Michael Bryant’s 24.