For every Hardaway rebound, every steal, every lay-in and every three-pointer, Shaw junior Kayla Bonilla had an answer.
Bonilla dropped 41 points in a 53-47 win over the Lady Hawks in the opening round of the girls Region 1-5A tournament on Monday at Columbus High. For nearly the entire contest, she was a broken record, racing down the court, weaving through traffic and laying in basket after basket.
There were occasions that she missed — nobody’s perfect — but there were also occasions she was fouled, giving her free opportunities to hold Hardaway at bay.
She scored 11 in the first, helping the Lady Raiders erase an early six-point deficit to go ahead at the end of the quarter. And when Hardaway’s Tiffany Dixon knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to open the second, Bonilla scored 11 straight points over a period of less than three minutes to turn an 18-15 deficit into a 26-18 lead. When Hardaway’s Yonna Johnson knocked down a pair of free throws that made it 48-45 inside of a minute left in the game, Bonilla penetrated the lane again, got to the rim and laid one in to keep it a two-possession game.
Asked after the game whether she felt like she needed the ball in her hands throughout the game’s entirety, Bonilla’s coach Julee Fryer interjected to answer for her.
“Yes,” she said with a laugh. “Yes, she did.”
The 41 points matched Bonilla’s career high at Shaw. She scored 41 in a 68-61 loss to Northside earlier this season. It was the sixth occasion she went over 30 points in a game this year.
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take,” Bonilla said, explaining her effort from Monday night. “I just wanted to be quick and get to the basket.”
“She’s just able to find those seams in the zone,” Fryer said. “We want those high-percentage shots, and she’s able to create them on her own.”
Overshadowed in the loss for Hardaway were strong performances from Dixon and Johnson, who finished with 17 and 16 points in the game, respectively.
The Lady Raiders may need her to have another similar effort from Bonilla when they face the Lady Patriots in the second round of the region tournament on Tuesday. Despite her monster 41-point effort against Northside earlier this season, Shaw still lost by seven points.
Fryer said she’s glad there is no time to think about the next one.
“I’m glad we play tomorrow,” she said. “We weren’t thinking past today, and we don’t have time to think about it now. Northside is tough, so we’re just going to have to get after it.”
COLUMBUS BOYS 65, HARDAWAY 57: The Columbus boys held off Hardaway 65-57 on Monday in the opening round of the Region 1-5A tournament at Columbus.
Hardaway trailed at the half, but closed the gap with a 9-0 run to close the third quarter at 40-40. Columbus came out strong in the fourth, however, building as much as a 13-point lead and hanging on for the eight-point victory.
“For some reason, we have spurts where we aren’t as consistent,” Columbus coach George Williams said. “We just need to find a way to be more consistent and do a better job of handling adversity.’
Noah Lott led three Blue Devils scorers in double-figures with 17. Lincoln Smith added 13 and Terrance Dixon had 10. Hardaway got 21 points from Antonio Campbell and 15 from L.J. Billingsley in the loss.
The win for Columbus sets up a game against third-seeded Shaw on Wednesday with a playoff berth on the line. Hardaway’s season is over.
“We did a lot of good things,” Williams said of Monday’s game. “A lot of bad, too. But some good. We’re going to have to play a lot better Wednesday.”
Monday at Columbus
Hardaway 12 8 8 19—47
Shaw 15 13 10 15—53
Tiffany Dixon 17, Yonna Johnson 16, Cosby 4, Moura 3, Adams 3, Dent 2, McCrory 1, Hill 1.
Kayla Bonilla 41, Snead 7, Bagslay 3, Warner 2.
Records: Hardaway, ; Shaw, 8-17, 2-9. Next: Hardaway, season over; Shaw, Tuesday vs. Northside at Northside.
Monday at Columbus
Hardaway 12 11 17 17—57
Columbus 9 19 12 25—65
Antonio Campbell 21, LJ Billingsley 15, Ford 9, Daniels 7, Thomas 3, Umble 2.
Noah Lott 17, Lincoln Smith 13, Terrance Dixon 10, J.C. Houpt 9, Gardner 6, Thornton 4, Mason 3, Dalton 2, H. Houpt 1.
Records: Hardaway, 4-19; Columbus, 9-16. Next: Hardaway, season over; Columbus, Wednesday vs. Shaw at Shaw.