by PATRICK CASEY
The Paxton Lady Bobcats never get tired of winning district championships as attested by their seventh consecutive basketball title as they defeated Bethlehem on Saturday night 53-34 to earn a home game in the opening round of the Class A playoffs.
Paxton (24-2) will host Aucilla Christian at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 10, and could advance to the second round of the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year with a win.
It was not easy for the Bobcats to get to that point after Central gave Paxton a battle in the semi-final. The Jaguars were tied with the Bobcats at 17-all at halftime when the Bobcats tightened up their defense to allow only six made baskets from the field the rest of the way to pull away for a 46-32 win.
Rebecca Ferreira, a junior guard, scored 11 of her 14 points in the second half while Alyssa Dupree scored nine of her 13 points after the break to help the Bobcats pull away for their 21st consecutive win over the Santa Rosa County team.
The Bobcats traveled back to Bethlehem on Saturday night to face a Wildcats squad that had lost to Paxton both times in the regular season.
The game was a bruising contest for most of the night but the Bobcats pressure defense was more than the Wildcats could handle as Paxton built a 15-5 lead after one quarter and held a 27-12 lead at the break with deft shooting from outside and solid rebounding on the interior. Bethlehem struggled to make shots from the floor for most of the night and never made more than four shots from the floor in any of the four quarters as Paxton’s bench kept the lead at 20 points for most of the second half in earning a 53-34 victory.
Alyssa Dupree led the way with 14 points while Rebecca Ferreira scored 13 points in helping the Bobcats defeat Bethlehem for the 14th consecutive game.
“We had a bit of a slow start against Central,” Coach Steve Williams acknowledged. “Those semi-finals are always intense with someone’s season coming to an end. We start the playoffs at our place and will take it one game at a time.
Should Paxton defeat Aucilla Christian, they will likely travel to face playoff nemesis Tallahassee FAMU High on Tuesday, Feb. 15.
Game Notes: Paxton has won 20+ games in seven of their last eight seasons. Paxton has won 13 straight games. Steve Williams is in his second year as head coach and holds a 43-12 record at Paxton. Paxton is 77-7 at home over the last seven seasons and undefeated at home this season. The Lady Bobcats are 32-14 in the state playoffs in 18 trips with four state championships (1986, 1994, 1996, 1997).