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Miami Norland girls rally past Jensen Beach

Shania Swan scores 17 points to lead the Falcons

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – The Miami Norland Vikings used a strong second half behind junior Shania Swan to defeat the Jensen Beach Falcons, 41-29, in the Class 5A state regional semifinals. Swan’s game-high 17 points, including nine over the final two quarters led Miami Norland to a 24-10 edge after the break.

The Vikings also received a big lift in the paint from senior Fenishka Bertho. The 6-foot-4 center, nicknamed “Big Baby,” scored seven of her ten points in the second half while adding 13 rebounds and three blocks. Bertho’s ability to protect the rim helped limit Jensen Beach to just ten points after the break.

Shania Swan

“They came out on fire,” said Miami Norland head coach Carla Harris. “They came out doing what we knew they could do which was shoot the three-pointer. We had to regroup and get ourselves together and we came back.

"Shania was big for us. She usually is big for us offensively. I’m used to her being big offensively, but she was actually big on defense in ways that other people may not realize. She did some things that were smart to help us eliminate number four and to help our big girl with her. She was just big on both sides of the ball for us today.”

Jensen Beach, the three-seed traveling from Martin County, came out swinging early despite the long trip to Miami Gardens. Freshman shooting guard Danielle Bell scored eight quick points on two 3-pointers as the Falcons jumped out to an 8-0 start with 5:36 remaining in the period. Bell would add one more field goal in the quarter as Jensen Beach opened with an 11-7 first period edge and a 19-17 advantage at halftime.

Despite a strong start, Bell would score her final basket in the fourth quarter to finish with 12 points. A tough in-between effort by Lauren Cioffi helped Jensen Beach much of the final three quarters. The 6-foot guard/forward scored six of her 10 points in the second half while adding 13 rebounds. She also had the tough assignment of guarding the bigger Bertho for much of the game. Cioffi came into the game leading Jensen Beach in both points and rebounds.

Led by Swan’s seven third quarter points Miami Norland opened up a 28-22 lead after 24 minutes. The 5-foot-8 combo guard hit one of her three 3-pointers early in the half and used her athleticism off the dribble at key moments for baskets at the rim. Swan, who also is a captain, showed her leadership in timely fashion to move the second-seeded Vikings into the regional finals of the state tournament.

Her perimeter defense, along with Bertho’s in the frontcourt, also limited the Falcons offensive success into the fourth quarter. Nine missed free-throws by Jensen Beach also helped Miami Norland extend its lead to double-digits by the conclusion of the game.

“Coach always say when we come out, we need to show them who we are,” said Swan. “It’s our home gym and we had the advantage. When we saw them jump out on us like that, its like we really need to get it together. It was tough. We had our big man trying to guard a guard.

"When we made adjustments towards the end by sagging off and helping off of her, we really got back on track. We started coming back with momentum and the fans started to help us a bit. We are learning. We have been through so many situations throughout the year. We have been in overtime and in close games with free-throws. Coach always says to close out a game we need free-throws, lay-ups, and defense. That’s how we are going to win our games. I feel like tonight we really did well with the free-throws and our lay-ups. We won everything.”