TAMPA – Alonso's ultimate goal is to be the top team in the state. But first the Ravens had to prove they were the top team in their own city.
They did that Wednesday night in a 46-41 win over Plant. The loss is the first of the season for the Panthers (12-1).
"We just wanted some respect," senior forward Alyssa Jones said. "Plant was undefeated and we wanted to prove that we were a good team also."
Senior forwards Ariel Scott and Jones played a big part in stopping Plant's two big players under the basket, Alexys Mathangani and Kendal Cheesman. Mathangani got 12 hard-earned points and Cheesman was held to three. Jones scored 12 points, and both Scott and Jones played big down the stretch.
Senior Jacquelyn LeVay was the player of the game for Alonso. She scored 28 points to lead all scorers and was one of the few players on either team that was consistent throughout the game.
Neither team could do much in the first half. The score was 7-6 after one quarter and both teams had more missed shots and turnovers than made baskets. LeVay had the hot hand in the second quarter and helped Alonso take a 20-14 halftime lead. She scored 16 of her team's points in the first half.
Alonso (13-1) scored the first six points of the second half before the Panthers went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 26-22. But a layup by Ariel Scott, a three-point play by Jones and a LeVay free throw made the score 32-22 Alonso after three quarters.
The lead grew to 40-23 with just over five minutes to play after a Jones layup. But the Panthers were not going to give up. They scored nine straight points to make it 40-31 with three minutes left. That's when LeVay hit a 3-point shot to stop the streak.
"I was just still playing; I wasn't looking at the scoreboard or anything," said LeVay, who made three 3-pointers in the game. "I want the ball in those situations and I'm confident I can make it."
Still, Plant kept up the pressure and when Nyla Jean made a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left the Alonso lead was down to 43-41. But LeVay made two free throws and Jones made one to put the game out of reach.
"Definitely our worst performance of the year but hats off to Alonso," Plant coach Carrie Mahon said. "They came to play. They rebounded like beasts. We were just horrendous and I guess to play this poorly and only lose by five is something we can take away from this."
Honor Culpepper was the only other Plant player in double digits. She scored 13 before fouling out in the final minute.