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Cardinal Gibbons punches ticket to Lakeland with rout of North Broward Prep in region final

The Chiefs get 21 points from point guard Konstantina Mantziori to reach the Class 4A state semifinals

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.- Lakeland bound.

The Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs are heading to the state semifinals after defeating the North Broward Prep Eagles 65-45 in the Class 4A, Region 4 final. Senior point guard Konstantina Mantziori scored a team-high 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Chiefs (22-5) to the final four.

Cardinal Gibbons’ wire-to-wire victory began with an 8-0 run to start the game and 17-8 lead after the first quarter. The Chiefs would hold serve with a 9-point edge at halftime before opening up a double-digit lead in the second half, culminating with a 16-6 fourth quarter to clinch the regional championship.

“The word defense gets used a lot to win championships, but people don’t understand it truly does,” Cardinal Gibbons head coach Kevin Gordon said. "This is a great team. We gave up 75 points against them two months ago. I’m up all night thinking and trying to find things and that was our strategy."

"Obviously, you have to put the ball in the basket. With a three-headed monster of Riley Weiss, Alexa Schwartz, and Kaydie Sturm, they can flat out score the basketball. They beat some really good teams this year. Our girls found a way to step up and they made foul shots today. Just an incredible defensive job tonight holding this team under their average. I would say they probably average 55 points a game.”

Despite a few second half runs, the Eagles could not overcome the deficit set by the Chiefs. North Broward Prep would cut the lead to a handful of possessions before a bucket by Mantziori or senior Taylor Williams opened back up the margin. 

The 5-foot-9 point guard scored eight of her 12 points in the second half while adding five rebounds. Senior forward Brooke Buckman was also big inside and on the free-throw line with 7 makes to finish with 11 points. Mantziori also made nine of her 11 made free-throws in the second half.

Cardinal Gibbons also did a good job on Columbia commit Riley Weiss. The 5-foot-10 guard finished with a team-high 21 points on six field goals while taking numerous attempts. Moreover, her first basket came at the 6:58 mark of the second quarter. Williams, along with help defense, made it difficult for Weiss to score off the drive. However, she did find success at the free-throw line with nine makes.

Sophomore shooting guard Kaydie Sturm added 11 points on three 3-pointers. Although, the Eagles’ tough shooting night came mostly from beyond the perimeter.

“Riley worked for her shots,” Gordon added. “She is an incredible player. Obviously, she is playing at the highest level at Columbia. I’m at emotion because these girls work all summer. We lost to Calvary last year by thirty a year ago at almost this time. We had girls come back to the gym like Brooke Buckman, who’s our leader. She came to the gym the next day to work. This was her dream. That’s why we came up with the phrase “One Team, One Dream.” For them to achieve that, it’s all about them. This will be our fifth trip in so many years as a school, but this is their team.”

While leading her team in points, Mantziori orchestrated Gibbons’ offense with assists to Williams under the basket and open looks to senior Ali Conard at the three-point line. The 5-foot-5 point guard hit a long 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter on an assist from Mantziori. Conard hit both of Gibbons’ 3-pointers to finish with six points. Mantziori came into the game averaging a team-best eight assists while averaging 12 points per game.

“We started our preseason having a dream like that,” said Mantziori. We have decent balance as a team, but we don’t necessarily have the height or athleticism. We work together and stay together. We had a lot of hard moments, but we stayed together and we’re there for each other. I think that’s what made us come to this point today.”

The Chiefs are now two wins away from reaching the ultimate goal of winning a state championship. Cardinal Gibbons will face 22-7 Sarasota Booker in the state semifinals. Mantziori will likely be a key factor if the Chiefs are going to bring the 4A state title back to Fort Lauderdale.

“I just have to do my job and organize the team,” added Mantziori. “I need to be there for the girls. As long as I’m there to lead them, I know they will make shots. They are going to be there for me. I really believe in us.”