Posted: 6:39 pm Monday, February 28th, 2011
By Jeff Greer
Lakeland’s the next stop for three area teams: Grandview Prep, Summit Christian and Dwyer. All three are making return trips to the state semifinals, where they each lost a year ago. Will this year produce better results?
What’s that Yogi Berra saying? “It’s deja vu all over again”? Fits perfectly here, doesn’t it? If you saw Saturday’s regional finals, you wouldn’t have any trouble imagining these three teams playing for a state title.
Dwyer bum-rushed Melbourne-Palm Bay with a bigger, faster, stronger and deeper team. The Panthers seem to have upped the intensity in the playoffs, as they’ve won three games by an average of 29 points. They’re back in the state semis for the third year in a row. The past two trips resulted in tough, tough losses.
Ismaila Dauda outclassed Hialeah-Champagnat’s 6-foot-11 center Tonye Jekeri to help his Grandview Prep team make its annual trip to Lakeland. The Pride have now been in the state semifinals five consecutive times, but coach Joe Dawson and his crew are yet to get that elusive state title. And there’s yet another chance that the Pride could face the area’s other Class 1A powerhouse, Summit Christian, in the title game.
Summit Christian overwhelmed Naples-Seacrest Country Day with an early run that put the game away. Summit forced 22 turnovers and Farad Cobb (16 points), Jean Prophete (13) and Brandon Williams (12) did their usual damage. The Saints are in the state semis for the fourth time in five years.
And here is your complete schedule for the week’s state-championship games:
Wednesday, March 2, 10 a.m.: Grandview Prep vs. Tallahassee-FAMU High
Wednesday, March 2, 11:30 a.m.: Summit Christian vs. Orlando Christian Prep
Friday, March 4, 11:30 p.m.: Dwyer vs. Fort Walton Beach
The games will not be broadcast live in Palm Beach County. But you can follow me on Twitter for live in-game updates. I tweet frequently, so it’ll probably be as close to play-by-play action as you’ll get. I’ll also have a running blog post for each of the three semifinal games. And then for any title games should the area teams win their semifinals.
I also plan to have a game story for each game and five thoughts on each contest. Keep your browser handy and PBGametime.com up so you can stay in-the-know.
If you do make it to Lakeland, admission is $9 per session and parking is $7 at the Lakeland Center.
Anyway, here’s what we know about this week’s state semifinals …
The Matchups: Fort Walton Beach vs. Dwyer, Lake Wales vs. St. Petersburg-Gibbs.
Dwyer has to be the favorite coming into this year’s state semifinals. But the Panthers have to avoid the kind of letdown that saw them dropped in the semis the past two seasons. How can they do that? They have to turn Fort Walton Beach over with their press. The depth and talent at each position — Dwyer feels two-deep at every spot — has to be a factor. The scorers for Dwyer — mainly Jacoby Brissett, Vic Adams, Greg Louis and Terrell Harris — cannot get in foul trouble, which is something that has limited some key Panthers in the past few games.
“We just have to be a little bit smarter, especially after we pick up the first one” Dwyer coach Fred Ross said. “We’d exchange two points for them staying in the game longer.”
What do we know about Fort Walton Beach? This is the Vikings’ first trip to Lakeland since 1997. They’ve made the playoffs eight times since 2001, but they never broke past the regional semis. They play tough man-to-man defense and rarely switch to zone. They also traveled well when they played at Jacksonville-Wolfson for the regional finals — reports said they had some 200 fans make the trip. Sounds like they’ll show up in force in Lakeland.
“We haven’t really seen them,” said Ross, who added that tape of Fort Walton Beach would arrive tomorrow. “We have a height advantage like we do against most teams and we’ll try to exploit that. But they’re 29-1 and in the state semifinals so we know it’s gonna be a battle.”
Fort Walton Beach vs. Dwyer: Friday, 11:30 a.m.
Stars to Watch: Stats are from the end of the regular season … G Jacoby Brissett (14.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg); F Greg Louis (13.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg); G Vic Adams (16.1 ppg); 6-10 C Joel James (8 ppg); and G/F Terrell Harris (11.5 ppg).
How They Got Here: Defeated Oakland Park-Northeast 78-54, Fort Lauderdale-Dillard 81-54 and Melbourne-Palm Bay 91-55
Fort Walton Beach
Stars to Watch: Sedric Rudolph had 22 points in the regional final, and AJ Shepherd had 16.
How They Got Here: Defeated Pensacola-Escambia 59-50, Pensacola-Pine Forest 55-52 and Jacksonville-Wolfson 55-48.
The Matchups: Grandview Prep vs. Tallahassee-FAMU High, Summit Christian vs. Orlando Christian Prep
Orlando Christian Prep is back in familiar territory at the state semis. OCP won its third consecutive the state championship last year, beating powerhouse Arlington Country Day. It also dropped Grandview by 26 points last year in the semis. So there’s your pre-tournament favorite.
FAMU High vs. Grandview Prep: 10 a.m., Wednesday
Grandview coach Joe Dawson on FAMU High: “They’ve won 13 of their last 14. They’re on a roll right now. They like to push the ball. They play a few different zone defenses. Real athletic … We have to be sharp with the basketball and take smart shots and then we have to make them work for baskets.”
Stars to Watch: C Ismaila Dauda (19.6 ppg, 14.4 rpg); G/F Daniel Garga (14.3 ppg in playoffs); G Eric Mance (14.4 ppg); G Ivan Canete (12.3 ppg in playoffs); and G Kamil Williams (10.5 ppg).
How They Got Here: Defeated Miramar-Florida Bible 80-38, Lake Worth Christian 67-55 and Hialeah-Champagnat 70-55.
Stars to Watch: Jordan Warner (11 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocks in regional final) is the Rattlers’ go-to guy.
How They Got Here: Defeated Paxton 49-28, Malone 66-46 and Lecanto-Seven Rivers Christian 50-35.
Orlando Christian Prep vs. Summit Christian: Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.
Summit Christian coach Murray Smith on OCP: They’re good. They shoot the ball well … but we don’t have to be in awe. We’ve seen it all. I don’t think we’ll be intimidated … They play a 1-3-1 zone. That’s their bread and butter, so we have to get the ball moving and get them out of position. There will be open shots. You just have to make them. You have to be patient.”
Stars to Watch: 6-5 F Jean Prophete (18.8 ppg, 12.6 rpg); G Farad Cobb (22.3 ppg); G Kadeem Robinson (7.0 apg); 6-8 F Brandon Williams (10.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg).
How They Got Here: Defeated West Melbourne-Brevard Christian 78-47, Berean Christian 69-42 and Naples-Seacrest Country Day 59-37.
Orlando Christian Prep
Stars to Watch: G Adonis Burbage (15.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg); Isaac Cohen (15.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg); G Jordan Montgomery (12.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg).
How They Got Here: Defeated Winter Park-International Community 69-30, Orlando-Faith Christian Academy 51-39 and Bradenton Christian 68-44.