High school sports: HEART topples North Marion in girls basketball, improves to 23-5

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OCKLAWAHA — Senior forward Abbey Keister scored a game-high 13 points and senior guard Katie Tagliaferro added 11 to lead the HEART Home School girls basketball team to a 47-29 victory against visiting North Marion on Monday night.

The loss dropped NMNS to 12-7 on the season, while the win improved HEART to 23-5 overall and earned the Falcons a season sweep of the Colts.

"I am very proud of the girls," HEART coach Dianna Keister said. “It was a hard-fought game and our motto is play hard, have fun and never give up. In the first game we fell behind North Marion by 10 points, had to dig out of a hole and won in overtime. Tonight, we got ahead early and stayed on top. The girls worked well together and we had good outside shooting and inside scoring."

North Marion, which was without versatile junior guard Brianna Garcia, struggled to score in the first quarter and HEART took advantage as Keister put up four points in the paint and Tagliaferro, who transferred from St. John Lutheran, converted four free throws to give the Falcons a 10-4 lead heading to the second period.

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The Colts, who committed 19 turnovers, continued to struggle from the floor, though guard D'Nhia Johnson scored three of her team-high 13 points in the period.

HEART kept the pressure on, as Kelsay Bowen scored two of her eight points and Alyssa Keister scored on a rebound basket to give the Falcons a 15-7 lead at the half.

NMHS mounted a rally as center Dy'ani Hadley scored four points in the paint and Sophia Watson swished a jumper in the lane, but HEART answered as Kayla Bowen scored three of her eight points and Tagliaferro buried back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Falcons a commanding 29-15 lead heading to the final stanza.

North Marion made one last run as Johnson scored five points and E'niah Tensley added five, including a 3-pointer to pull the Colts within striking distance.

The Falcons kept their composure and extended the lead as Abby Keister scored eight points and Kayla Bowen contributed five to push the lead back to double digits with less than four minutes remaining in the game.

North Marion was forced to foul to try and get back in the game, but the strategy didn't work as HEART players made their free throws to seal the victory.

"I can't say enough good things about all of the girls and we give all of the glory to God," Dianna Keister said.

HEART is back in action on Monday at The Rock. North Marion will visit 2021 FHSAA Class 1A state runner-up Hawthorne on Thursday.

This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: Girls basketball: HEART completes season sweep of North Marion

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