Last season, the Flagler Palm Coast girls basketball team reached the state playoffs for the first time since 1978. They plan on a repeat appearance — and more — this year.
Basketball fans know The Big Three. In Boston, it means Garnett, Allen, Pierce. In Miami, it’s James, Wade, Bosh.
But around Flagler County, there’s no question who the big three are: Flagler Palm Coast’s Ty’neka Addison, Desirea Hurley and Diajah Davis. They helped lead the Lady Bulldogs to an 18-10 finish last season. And though they lost in the district championship to Spruce Creek, they made it to the state playoffs for the first time since 1978. In the regional quarterfinals, FPC fell to Orange Park — who came into the game 24-2.
But coach Javier Bevacqua is excited for this year’s team to build upon last season’s success.
“We definitely lost senior leadership, but I still have three girls from my starting lineup last year,” he said.
Bevacqua enters his fourth season as coach, and he has turned the program around. The year before he took over, the girls team went 12-13. In Bevacqua’s first season, they went 14-10, which was the best record in school history — until last season.
Despite bringing back three of his main weapons, Bevacqua said his team isn’t favored this year, but that’s just fine by him.
“We are starting a freshman, a junior and three seniors,” Bevacqua said. “But we are young on the bench. Our depth might be our only question.”
One of Bevacqua’s weapons could be Mirlande Mercius, a 6-foot, 5-inch transfer from Haiti. She has never played basketball before, but Bevacqua hopes she’ll be an asset by January.
Bevacqua knows that as his big three go, the team goes. So far this season, the Lady Bulldogs are off to a 3-0 start.
Addison came into the season as a Division-1 point-guard recruit. She’s garnered looks from schools such as Jacksonville University, the University of Central Florida, Marshall, Bethune- Cookman and the University of South Florida.
For each of the past three seasons, she has led the Lady Bulldogs in points per game, rebounds per game, steals per game, assists per game and was the overall top point-scorer at the end of each season.
Bevacqua expects her to surpass the 1,000-point mark for her career this season, and he estimates she’ll finish her high school career with nearly 1,500 points. Though he hasn’t been able to confirm the accomplishment, he believes she will be the girls basketball all-time leading scorer at FPC.
“She’s the heart and soul of the team,” Bevacqua said of his point guard. “You can’t coach athleticism, instinct and speed. And when you couple all those together with a great jump shot and not being afraid to drive to the basket, you can’t stop it.”
Bevacqua added, “She almost plays like a man. It’s scary. She brings things to the table that you can’t coach.”
Fellow senior Desirea Hurley is the team’s outside threat. Last season she drained 48 3-pointers. Bevacqua thinks Hurley will break the school’s single-season school record of 52 this season. Hurley ranked second in the Volusia/Flagler area for 3-pointers made last season — 51 was the most. She converted 46% of her long-range shots last season, and Bevacqua said the Bethune-Cookman coach said Hurley was the best shooter in the two-county area.
Diajah Davis is the junior. She gets comparisons to Charles Barkley. “She’s a monster on the boards,” Bevacqua said.
Last season, Davis nearly averaged a double-double, and had a season-high 19 rebounds in one game.
“We’re expecting big things from her because, as a junior, she’s probably the most versatile player we have,” Bevacqua said.
He expects Davis to average around 16 points and 14 rebounds per game this season.
Expectations: district championship
Bevacqua said the goal is to battle for the district championship again. He said a lot of the Volusia County teams are strong, but he feels like his team is flying under the radar.
After all, the Lady Bulldogs have been the No. 1 seed the past two years. “We shouldn’t miss a beat and we should be right there competing and getting back to the state playoffs,” he said. “I expect us to be there.”