FHSAA basketball

Wildwood Captures 2nd Straight 1A Title

The second title for Kari Niblack and the Wildwood Wildcats was just as sweet as the first.

Niblack, a 6-foot senior who has signed with West Virginia, had 28 points and 12 rebounds as Wildwood defeated Port St. Joe, 54-45, for its second consecutive Class 1A girls basketball state championship Tuesday at the RP Funding Center.

“It’s an indescribable feeling both times,” Niblack said of the back-to-back titles.

It was Niblack who kept Wildwood close in the first half until the rest of the Wildcats got going after Port St. Joe jumped out to a quick 11-3 lead. The Tiger Sharks, led by Teiyahna Hutchinson who scored 26 points, eventually built that lead to 22-12 early in the second quarter.

Hutchinson had three of her four 3-pointers in the first quarter.

“I expected to get off to a fast start because of the way we press and the way we run and get out on the break,” said Port St. Joe coach Kenny Parker. “I figured Teiyahna would get open at the start.”

Niblack, who scored 19 of her team’s first 22 points, then sparked a 14-0 run that ended with Danasia Bogle turning a pair of steals into layups to give Wildwood a 26-22 halftime lead. It was a lead the Wildcats never lost.

“Kari, she played like Kari,” said Wildwood coach Richard Hampton. “She set the tone and with (Bogle) being able to get her the ball … the way our team works, Kari gets started then teams have to switch (their defense), so then it’s kind of pick your poison. With Kari playing like that, it’s tough.”

Bogle’s two steals were a turning point, Hampton said.

“It changed the defense, it changed the momentum. Our momentum changed offensively and defensively,” Hampton said. “Once our defense picks up, we play better offensively.”

And that’s how it worked. In the second half, the Tiger Sharks put a double-team on Niblack who was able to find open teammates as the Wildcats built their lead to 41-30 heading into the final quarter.

Over the second and third quarters, Wildwood outscored Port St. Joe 29-11.

Port St. Joe was able to get back within four points, 47-43, before Niblack converted a three-point play to push it back up to seven and put the Wildcats back in control.

Niblack, who had just 13 points on 2-for-12 shooting in Wildwood’s semifinal win over Mayo Lafayette, said she knew she was going to have a good day Tuesday.

“I woke up this morning with this feeling,” Niblack said. “There’ve been times when I’ve been stuck and not playing good, then I wake up and it’s over. I woke up this morning and had a good feeling in my stomach.”

And as a result, Wildwood left the RP Funding Center with its second state championship trophy in a row.

Wildwood (54) — Rakiya Blackwell 0-0 0-0 0, Ashtin Ingram 2-9 0-0 4, Doneshia Parris 0-0 0-0 0, Qua’Miya Askew 2-7 1-3 5, Danasia Bogle 3-11 7-11 13, Kari Niblack 9-16 10-13 28, Bra’Niyah Dixon 1-3 2-4 4. Totals 17-46 20-31 54

Port St. Joe (45) — Jae Lenox 1-14 0-0 3, Teiyahna Hutchinson 8-23 6-9 26, ShaMario Cole 1-5 0-0 3, Aliyah Johnson 0-2 0-1 0, Mimi Larry 0-0 0-0 0, Mari Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Brooklynn Quinn 4-6 1-4 11, Antiuana Croom 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 15-52 7-14 45

Wildwood ; 12 ; 14 ; 15 ; 13 – 54

Port St. Joe ; 19 ; 3 ; 8 ; 15 – 45

FG%: Wildwood .370, Port St. Joe .288. 3-pt FG: Wildwood 0-7 (Ingram 0-5, Askew 0-1, Bogle 0-1), Port St. Joe 8-25 (Lenox 1-8, Hutchinson 4-8, Cole 1-5, Johnson 0-1, Quinn 2-3). Rebounds: Wildwood 42 (Niblack 12), Port St. Joe 35 (Johnson 8). Fouls Wildwood 10, Port St. Joe 21. Fouled out: Croom Quinn . Technical: none. Assists: Wildwood 7 (Niblack 5), Port St. Joe 12 (Quinn 6). Steals: Wildwood 10 (Bogle 5), Port St. Joe 9 (Hutchinson 5). Blocked shots: Wildwood 4 (Ingram 2, Niblack 2), Port St. Joe 3 (Hutchinson 1, Cole 1, Quinn 1). Turnovers: Wildwood 12, Port St. Joe 14.

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