Cape Coral's run through the Class 5A girls basketball playoffs came to a screeching halt Saturday night.
Three-time Class 5A state champion Fort Lauderdale Dillard ended Cape's season with 57-32 win in the regional final at Cape High.
The Panthers (26-2), ranked second in the state by MaxPreps, are only the second team to defeat the Seahawks (25-2). The other team, Class 3A Dunbar, also is a defending state champion and, like Dillard, is headed back to Lakeland for the state Final Four.
"I think we had the perfect game plan," Seahawks co-coach Kirk Myers said. "Everything we anticipated happening, happened. We just couldn't take advantage of opportunities. Down low we did not have a girl of their size which probably hurt us, but our girls battled to the last.
"I don't think their defense really, really bothered us. Once we saw it and got used to it, I thought we adjusted. Watching film on them, they like to full-court press. They couldn't do that because we were breaking the press and scoring."
Marcia Pinder, in her 36th year coaching Dillard, sent out a starting lineup with four seniors, compared to one (Camary Williams) for Cape Coral. The Panthers also had a size advantage across the board.
After trailing 8-0 to start the game, Cape came within 10-9 and trailed 21-16 after the first period. The Seahawks managed only 16 more points the rest of the way.
For example, Cape held Dillard to six points in the second period - and still lost ground, scoring a single point to trail 27-17 at the half.
Senior Kayla Wright dominated inside for Dillard with 11 of her game-high 17 points in the third quarter when the Panthers put the game away.
"We've got to continue to get better in the offseason and our basketball IQ needs to pick up some more," Myers said.
Williams had 11 points in her final game for the Seahawks. Junior Crystal Townsend led Cape with 12 points, the only other Seahawk in double figures.
The three-point shot, usually a key factor in the Seahawks'
offense, was missing Saturday. Julia Ramsay hit the only trey of the night for the Seahawks.
"It was a difficult loss because it was one of our best seasons yet and everyone shoots for state," Seahawks co-coach Olivia Myers said, "but in all honesty we are extremely pleased with their effort tonight. We wish it would have turned out differently but we cannot be disappointed in their effort."
Kirk Myers said, "We don't want any moral victories, We came here to win. We didn't come here to compete, but to win and the girls played like they wanted to win.
"We had a great run and I told the girls in the locker room, 'Don't walk out of here with your heads not held high. You guys had a great run. What you guys did this year was history. When everybody says you couldn't do it because we don't have anybody over 5-foot-10, we have girls who have 6-foot-5 hearts. I'll take 6-foot-5 hearts all day versus 6-foot-5 players. We could have used one tonight, but "
Dillard 21 6 15 15 - 57
Cape Coral 16 1 10 5 - 32
Dillard 57 - Wilkes 3, Myers 11, Green 15, Adams 2, Parvin 4, Burns 3, Wright 17, Anderson 2. Totals: 24 8-26 57.
Cape Coral 32 - Camary Williams 11, Beach 2, Brice 2, Townsend 12, Ramsay 3, Jones 2. Totals: 13 5-15 32.