Gracie Ricci poured in 22 points to lead the South Walton Seahawks in a 70-40 win over the North Bay Haven Buccaneers in Panama City Tuesday night.
Ricci, a senior, tossed in 11 points in the first quarter and then another 11 in the third.
Ricci, however, wasn’t the only Seahawk to hit double digits. Allison Richards knocked down 15 points and Allee Coble added 11.
“I thought (Ricci) played really well,” said South Walton Coach Kevin Craig.
He also spoke well of Richards.
“We needed her to have a break out game. I needed another person to come in and score … this was good really good for her.”
In recent weeks, Richards has missed two or three games due to sickness and a concussion.
South Walton didn’t waste any time taking charge of the game, reeling off 14 consecutive points in the first three minutes. Ricci started things off with a 3-pointer followed by a couple of back-to-back baskets from Coble, plus a free throw. Ricci was fouled a couple of times and hit all four shots from the line and then another bucket for a 14-0 start. North Bay finally got a shot to fall at the 4:17 mark on a basket from Aaliyah Bell. Josselin Geer hit a layup and drew a foul for a three-point play for the Bucs. Geer finished the night with 20 points for the North Bay Bucs.
Richards put a rebound back for the Seahawks and then Bell scored. In the last minute, Ricci scored a basket and then Shannon Cole made the second of two tries from the line for a 19-7 game at the end of first quarter.
“We jumped out on them 14-0. We looked like world beaters, then we quit playing,” Craig said. “We just got sloppy and lost our focus.”
In the second quarter, South Walton put up 12 points and the Bucs 11. After North Bay scored, Coble had a put-back basket for the Seahawks, and then Geer tossed in two baskets. Richards hit a couple of quick baskets underneath. Geer made a free throw and then Ciera Rowland scored for the Hawks. The Bucs answered, but so did the Hawks with Richards scoring and Georgia Johnson hitting a layup off a steal. In the final seconds, Geer drove the lane for the Bucs for two points. South Walton led 31-18 at the half.
In the second half the Seahawks regained their focus and came out like gang busters, scoring 10 consecutive points with Ricci making eight of those. The scoring then went back and forth for about a minute, then South Walton made another run for eight straight points. Ricci made a free throw, Ellie Wiggins nailed a 3-pointer and Richards knocked down a couple of inside shots for a 51-23 lead. In the last minute, North Bay scored six points for a 51-29 game at the buzzer.
In the fourth quarter, seven Seahawks put points on the board to pull off the 30-point victory. Gracie Neville scored four, Hannah Brooks, Gracie Lowry and Richards each scored three, while Coble, Cole and Rowland each chipped in two points.
“The second half, I was much more pleased with how we played,” Craig said. “But we’ve got to get more consistent play from our inside players. They’ve got to be able to finish.”
Up next for the South Walton Seahawks is a 6 p.m. game Jan. 16 at home against the Walton Braves.