Senior Alicia Emmons drove hard to the basket and scored a game-high 30 points to lead Ida Baker to a 56-37 victory Wednesday night over Ocala Forest in the first round of the Topaz Division of the Queen of the Palms Tournament at Baker.
Sophomore Jessey Placher chipped in with 12 points, including 6-of-10 at the free throw line to five the host Bulldogs a one-two punch that knocked out the Wildcats' second-half comeback bid.
The win sends the Bulldogs (11-3) into the semifinal round Thursday against Martin County at 3:30 p.m. North Fort Myers, which knocked off Lake Worth Christian 47-16 in an earlier first-round matchup, faces Clay County in semifinals at 8:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs scored the game's first 15 points before the Wildcats finally got on the board with one free throw with 5:22 remaining in the first period. The Bulldogs led 18-4 after one quarter and 37-19 at the half.
The Wildcats made a 12-4 run in the third quarter to trail 41-31 entering the final period, but the Bulldogs outscored the Wildcats 15-6 in the fourth and sank 9-of-14 free throws, including 5-of-8 by Placher, down the stretch to seal the win.
"We have not been very good on free throws this season," said Bulldogs coach Jason Briggs. "When a team offers you free points you gotta capitalize. We try to keep our fouls down so we can keep everybody on the floor who needs to be on the floor at the end."
The win could be a costly one with junior Ali Nicloy going down with an ankle injury.
"Ali is a big loss for us," said Briggs. "This is only the second major injury for us, so we've been fortunate."
Briggs is not concerned about playing for the Topaz Division championship on the Bulldogs' home floor just yet.
"We've got tomorrow to worry about first," he said.
Forest 4 15 12 6 - 37
Ida Baker 18 19 4 15 - 56
FOREST 37 - Robinson 10, Linville 4, Townsend 10, Johnson 1, Bell 4, Haughton 2, Graham 2, Brown 4. Totals: 14 8-18 37. 3PG: Robinson 1.
BAKER 56 - Ross 2, Nicloy 6, Emmons 30, Placher 12, Del Negro 5, Ramsey 1. Totals: 18 18-26 56. 3PG: Emmons 1, Del Negro 1.
Holiday Madness Tournament: Island Coast rebounded after Tuesday's disappointing loss to St. Mary's in the opening round by taking out Estero 77-63 in Wednesday's consolation bracket semifinals.
The win puts the Gators (7-6) into Thursday's consolation finale at noon against Lehigh.
Ida Baker, which had a bye into Wednesday's quarterfinal round, lost to host East Lee County 75-45 to slip into the fifth-place bracket. The Bulldogs meet Dunbar at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
"We were outrebounded the whole game," said Bulldogs coach Brad Seiss. "They were bigger than us and it got ugly early."
Tim Dal Bon led the Gators with 19 points with Terrell Griffin adding 18 points and 13 rebounds. Isaac Aponte contributed 17 points while Pablo Matos came through with 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Gators trailed 37-32 at halftime, but roared back with 26 third-quarter points to take a 58-50 lead into the final quarter.
"We kind of sleepwalked through the first half," said Gators coach Greg Coleman. "They stretched out the lead to eight or nine points in the third quarter before I called a timeout. We made some attitude adjustments, put on our full-court press and created some turnovers and played our game."
Island Coast 15 17 26 19 - 77
Estero 16 21 13 13 - 63
I. COAST 77 - Gomez 2, Aponte 17, Dal Bon 19, Griffin 18, Hawk 5, Matos 10, Belizaire 2. Totals: 25 16-26 77. 3PG: Aponte 1, Dal Bon 2, Hawk 2, Matos 1.
ESTER 63 - Ruedy 5, Driggers 8, Culvahouse 4, Jean Francois 3, Kincaid 5, Arcario 7, Hall 8, Matthews 20. Totals: 24 11-19 63. 3PG: Driggers 1, Arcario1, Matthews 2.