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Flagler Palm Coast girls basketball coach Javier Bevacqua has lost in the district championship three years in a row.
Although that’s gotten him into the state playoffs, it’s not good enough. He wants championships.
And with the amount of youth on his Lady Bulldogs roster, the future looks bright. He knows that.
FPC (5-1) improved its record after knocking off The Master’s Academy, 54-36, on Saturday night.
“This is one of the best teams I’ve enjoyed here at FPC because they get along with each other so well,” Bevacqua said. “It’s like a sisterhood ... It’s awesome.”
The youth and inexperience of the team showed in Saturday night’s game, however.
FPC got off to a hot start and led 12-8 after the first quarter. But blown defensive assignments and missed layups gave The Master’s Academy a 21-20 halftime lead.
Bevacqua implored some changes in the formation during the break. After starting the game in a 1-2-2 formation, the Lady Bulldogs started to give up too many points in the middle of the floor in the second quarter.
After halftime, FPC switched to the 2-2-1, and it worked.
Trailing but two possessions with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter, the defensive pressure finally caused the Lady Eagles to buckle.
Turnovers and steals propelled FPC to go on an 11-0 run and take a 38-27 lead after three quarters. FPC, as a team, forced double-digit steals.
FPC outscored The Master’s Academy 16-9 in the fourth quarter en route to the win.
“We’re so explosive defensively, but we have to capitalize when we get (steals) and make the layups,” Bevacqua said after Saturday’s game. “If a young team can do that, we’re deadly. Experience and age mean nothing if you’re making layups.”
The Lady Bulldogs’ game plan is simple: “We’re going to outrun you. We’re going to get in your face and if you can beat the pressure, then you can beat us,” Bevacqua said.
Despite a good early season record, Bevacqua said there will be bumps along the road with his young team — which features two seniors, one junior, five sophomores and three freshmen.
One of those sophomores is point guard Armani Walker, who has led the Lady Bulldogs in scoring every game this season.
That remained true on Saturday night, as Walker dropped 17 points to go along with her nine thefts.
Walker possesses the combination of speed and fearlessness.
“It’s tough to defender her,” Bevacqua said, of his young star. “She’s a good ball handler, and she’s very elusive. And speed kills in any sport — and she has that speed.”
One thing Walker is working on, though, is establishing a jump shot. She nailed a 3-pointer off a turnover late in the third quarter Saturday night to stretch FPC’s lead. And the more she can do that, the better, Bevacqua said.
“It’ll make her deadly,” he said. “If you play off of her, she’s going to hit (the jumper). If you play on her, she’ll blow by you.”
FPC opens district play when it travels to play Mandarin on Friday night. Mandarin defeated FPC in the District 1-8A championship last year.
“That’s what we’re waiting for, that’s what we’re trying to build to,” Bevacqua said.