Sem Ridge Basketball Girls Win Rising Stars Holiday Tourney

The Seminole Ridge High School girls basketball team with the tournament trophy.

On Thursday, Dec. 27 and Friday, Dec. 28, the Seminole Ridge High School girls basketball team competed in the Rising Stars Athletics Holiday Tournament and made school history by winning the championship 61-38 against Palm Beach Central High School. Sixteen teams competed in two divisions, black and red.

Both teams entered the tournament in the black division with high expectations — and delivered by making it to the finals on day two. However, it was the Seminole Ridge that emerged victorious with the first-place trophy.

“It’s a great feeling. Seminole Ridge has come a long way,” second year coach Maria Hudson said. “We’re a very young team. They buy into the process. They always remain humble and coachable, and we don’t take any team for granted.”

Both the Hawks (12-2) and the Broncos (8-4) ripped through their opponents to face each other in the finals.

The Hawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but the Broncos stayed toe-to-toe with the taller Seminole Ridge squad. As the first period ticked down, Shelby Gard hit a three-point basket to close the margin to 13-10 for the Broncos. The Hawk squad, known for a stingy defense this season, demonstrated why the team has been dominant this year.

The Hawks held the Broncos scoreless for the remainder of the period and went on a seven-point run to close out the first quarter leading 20-10.

“We live and die by defense,” said Hawk freshman Aspen Johnson, who played an integral role in ball distribution against the Broncos. “I just distribute the ball, and they knock down shots.”

Johnson believes that the team’s early success has changed the culture of girls basketball at the school. “It’s super important, because not only do you have a target on your back, but you actually make a name for yourself,” she explained. “A lot of us are responsible for turning the tide.”

Once the Hawks secured halftime with a 33-22 lead, the team continued to pressure the Broncos defensively through the second half. The pressure proved difficult for Palm Beach Central to cut into the Hawk lead. The Hawk offense was able to capitalize on the opportunities provided by their defense, and constant pressure led the Hawks to the 61-38 championship win.

“It means a lot to the school and the program,” Hudson said. “I remember my first year coaching. I went to the scheduling meeting, and they said, ‘Who are you?’ I said, ‘Seminole Ridge,’ and I had a line of people who wanted to schedule us because they thought we were going to be an easy win.”

With a 12-2 record, many teams may regret assuming that the Seminole Ridge girls squad would be a guaranteed win. Last year, the Hawks finished 15-10 under Hudson, and this year, they are off to an even better start. Hudson attributes their success to hard work and the defensive mindset they focus on.

Top performers for the Hawks were Aneeshea Cason with 15 points, Jahnae Midget with 13 points and India Shepherd with 11 points.

For the Broncos, Yoslene Quiles totaled 12 points and doubled in three-point baskets, while Alaysha Iwais had 11 points.