Tigers ride defense, Garcia’s hot hand to win over Viera
Holy Trinity sophomore scores 30 points in 58-40 victory
Holy Trinity sophomore Ionna Garcia goes up for two of her 30 points during Monday night's 58-40 win over visiting Viera.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
Ionna Garcia simply could not miss Monday night.
She … could … not … miss.
The Holy Trinity sophomore scored 30 points and the Tigers’ pressure defense forced the visiting Viera Hawks into numerous mistakes as the Tigers came away with a 58-40 victory.
“I was trying to score more tonight,” Garcia said. “I had open shots. I was confident in my shot when I shot it. I thought it was going in and it went in.”
Garcia, a forward/center, scored 18 of her points in a decisive second half after Viera had rallied to tie the score at 28-28 with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter.
Viera’s Tatiana Stephens led the Hawks’ comeback with 14 points, including four 3-pointers – all in the second half.
However, Holy Trinity was able to close out the third quarter on a 13-5 run for a 41-33 lead, then blew the game open in the final period on the way to the victory.
“I think today we played better as a team,” Garcia said. “We made our layups, we got the 50/50 balls and we were aggressive tonight.”
Whether she was getting layups off steals, scoring after getting an offensive rebound, or hitting some nice mid-range shots, Garcia hit everything she put up against the Hawks (9-6). All of her points came on 15 field goals.
Garcia said she had never scored 30 points in a game at any level before Monday night.
“That’s what we’ve been stressing most of the season with her – finishing,” Holy Trinity coach Jay Castillo said. “I kept telling her, ‘You could get 20 if you finish.’ She did 10 better.
“Was she even on the free throw line tonight? Inside, outside, steals … she did it all.”
Sophomore guard Alinah Sarratt was the only other Holy Trinity player in double figures with 12 points. Senior Haley Ford was the next highest scorer for the Tigers with five points.
Viera, meanwhile, got nine points from junior guard Casi Ramirez and eight points from senior guard Jaeda Stewart to go with Stephens’ team-high 14-point effort.
“They came out and played really tough defense,” Viera coach Josh Carmer said. “They made it difficult to get into what we were trying to do. That’s good on them that they played well.
“My girls just (need to) keep trying to work through it and get better.”
The Hawks have already matched last year’s win total of nine and have been showing improvement throughout the season under Carmer, who is in his first year.
“If you look at the team that was on the floor early in the season, and the team now … it’s evolved,” Carmer said.
The Hawks will travel to face Space Coast tonight at 7 p.m. before returning home on Thursday to play Eau Gallie.
Holy Trinity (6-6), meanwhile, is scheduled to host Sebastian River on Wednesday and then play at Eau Gallie on Friday.
If the Tigers can continue to play the way they did on Monday night with their defensive pressure and ability to hold off Viera’s comeback attempt, it will certainly bode well for them down the line.
“All the way through, we played much better,” Castillo said. “Offensively, we executed some things. We scrapped better. I think we came out of halftime a little flat, but then they woke up.
“… Today, we didn’t back down. I’m proud of them. That’s why it was pretty much the shortest after-game speech we’ve had in a long time. It was just ‘Great game.’ That’s it.”