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St. Thomas Aquinas cruises past Bloomingdale for fourth straight state title

The Raiders notch their fourth straight state championship

LAKELAND, FLORIDA- St. Thomas Aquinas made sure from start to finish, they left no doubt who the top team in Class 6A was. 

The Raiders raced out to a 20-9 lead after the opening quarter and never looked back as they defeated Bloomingdale 70-35 to win the Class 6A state championship Saturday afternoon at RP Funding Center. 

"I am incredibly proud of our girls," St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Oliver Berens said. "They have stayed so resilient, very united and have fought through a ton of adversity getting to this point. This year has been incredibly challenging. It has not been easy. Our girls stayed together for 32 minutes and peaked at the very end of the season. We have such a special group of girls on and off the court."

Emulating the football team and inching closer to winning five in a row, the girls basketball squad has notched four consecutive titles. The scary part is it doesn't look like that will stop anytime soon the way St. Thomas Aquinas is playing. 

The opening quarter started off with both teams exchanging baskets, but eventually the Raiders would begin to create some separation from their counterparts. Senior Kamryn Corporan (20 points, eight steals, six assists) led the charge in the first quarter, going 3-of-5 from the field, scoring six points and grabbing three steals along the way. 

That was just the beginning of what would be an overall dominating performance by St. Thomas Aquinas all afternoon. 

For as dominant the Raiders (23-9) were in the opening period, they continued that well into the second quarter. It would be Kalia Harrington (22 points), though, becoming the featured player as the 5-foot-6 guard was raining 3-pointers in helping the Raiders win the period 19-5. 

At one point during the first half, St. Thomas Aquinas held Bloomingdale without a point for nine minutes and 41 seconds. Winning the turnover battle proved to be a factor as well, forcing 15 Bulls' miscues to the Raiders committing just three. 

Heading into intermission with a commanding 39-14 advantage, St. Thomas Aquinas went on cruise control for most of the second half en route to a fourth straight state crown. 

With the large lead never in doubt, Aquinas played more methodically in the second half. The Bulls (30-1) just were not able to contain the likes of Ka-zahria Johnson (seven points, 11 rebounds) and Mya Johnson (four rebounds) on the boards, which provided plenty of second chance points for the Raiders. 

Bloomingdale's season ends as the best in program history, with Bulls only blemish coming against St. Thomas Aquinas. At 30-1, Bloomingdale finishes with a 2023-2024 campaign to remember, a huge leap from just over a decade ago when the Bulls went 3-20 back in 2011-2012.  

Izellah Kendrick paced the Bulls with 14 points, six rebounds in the loss. 

"I'm proud of our kids and the way they battled," Bloomingdale head coach Joel Bower said. "A lot of credit to St. Thomas Aquinas for doing what they do. We have a lot to be proud of."

-- Andy Villamarzo | | @sblivefl