Balanced scoring by three juniors kept the Ida Baker Bulldogs in control of their own fate Thursday night against Estero.
Angel Inchausti led the trio with a game-high 20 points, including 9-of-13 free throws, as the Bulldogs earned their first win of the season 79-61 at the Dog Pound.
The Bulldogs got sufficient backing from Jordan Lugo with 17 points and Nate Evans with 16 points.
The Bulldogs (1-3) open District 6A-13 play Friday night at Island Coast (2-2).
Lugo and Evans banged away under the basket with layups, rebounds and blocking shots while Inchausti quarterbacked the offense from the perimeter.
The Bulldogs never trailed in the game, though the score was tied three times in the first quarter
The uptempo style used by both teams bordered on out-of-control at times and led to several technical fouls when tempers flared, but the Bulldogs kept their cool under furious defensive pressure baseline to baseline.
Every time the Bulldogs built a commanding lead, the Wildcats sliced into the margin only to fall back again. The Bulldogs opened a 14-point lead midway through the third quarter only to have the Wildcats cut it to nine, 51-42, early in the fourth quarter.
Evans and Inchausti ignited an 11-2 run that staked the Bulldogs to a 62-44 lead midway through the final period.
The Wildcats would not go down without a fight, drawing within 62-51 a minute later.
It became a free throw shooting contest with the Bulldogs converting seven chances to build their biggest lead of the game, 77-57, in the final minute. They converted 10-of-18 overall in the final period.
Jordan Driggers led the Wildcats with 13 points while Gary Hall added 11.
Estero12 11 14 24 - 61
Ida Baker16 18 17 28 - 79
ESTERO 61 - McFadden 9, Reudy 8, Gill 2, Driggers 13, Jean-Francois 5, Kincaid 7, Arcario 4, Hall 11, Zemits 2. Totals: 20 17-32 61. 3PG: McFadden 1, Reudy 2, Kincaid 1.
BAKER 79 - Inchausti 20, Mantle 1, Sparks 5, Price 8, Evans 16, Thompson 3, Perez 9, Lugo 17. Totals: 28 19-32 79. 3PG: Inchausti 1, Sparks 1, Thompson 1, Lugo 1.
Bishop Verot 64, LaBelle 46: Mason Taylor and Ricky Doyle combined for 35 points Thursday night to lead Bishop Verot past District 4A-11 rival LaBelle.
Taylor added 10 rebounds to go with his game-high 22 points.
The Vikings (4-0) play at Gulf Coast on Tuesday.
Bishop Verot 15 18 17 14 - 64
LaBelle 17 10 15 4 - 46
VEROT 64 - Taylor 22, Reeves 8, Paschitti 2, Hippler 4, Mosher 4, Williams 7, Doyle 13, Citro 4. Totals: 25 10-16 64. 3PG: Williams 1, Reeves 1.
LaBELLE 46 - Lightfoot 1, Ford 20, Johnson 5, Baptiste 6, Sloan 1, Kelley 13. Totals: 17 6-15 46. 3PG: Ford 3, Johnson 1, Kelley 2.
Oasis 0, Seacrest 0 (tie): The Oasis Sharks came close to getting their first victory of the season Thursday, but had to settle for a scoreless tie at Seacrest.
Goalkeeper Kayla Luchen made 11 saves for the Sharks (0-4-1).