Posted: 1:52 am Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Summit Christian, Grandview Prep one win away from anticipated matchup 

By Jeff Greer

One has to play a scrappy relative unknown; the other gets to take on a three-time defending state champ.

But the prospect of Summit Christian and Grandview Prep getting past their Class 1A semifinal matchups on Wednesday to set up a highly anticipated all-Palm Beach County championship-game showdown on Thursday is too good to ignore.

Joe Dawson

Joe Dawson

Grandview Prep (26-2) plays first on Wednesday, a 10 a.m. meeting with Tallahassee-Florida A&M University High. Then, immediately following that, Summit Christian (26-4) takes on Orlando Christian Prep (24-5), which has won three consecutive state titles. If the two Palm Beach County teams win, they would meet Thursday at 12:05 p.m.

Dwyer, the other area school in the state championships, even plans to arrive in time on Thursday to catch the Class 1A title game. Dwyer coach Fred Ross said he hoped at least one of the Palm Beach County teams was there, and preferably both.

“I think that would be great,” Grandview Prep coach Joe Dawson said. “That means at least one team from Palm Beach County would win a state title. It’s great for the county. We’d both be happy to be playing each other.”

Summit Christian coach Murray Smith echoed Dawson’s sentiment.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” said Smith, adding that the last time two Palm Beach County teams met was in 1999, when his Cardinal Newman team beat Pope John Paul II for the Class 3A title. “(Grandview Prep) seems to be very consistent. You’re not gonna win it every year, but I think what Joe and I have done is … our teams have certainly been in the conversation. That’s about all you can ask for.”

AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE STATE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Grandview and Summit have been to the state semifinals nine times in the past five years, with Summit missing the states just once in that span and Grandview having been each of the past five seasons. But both coaches add the expected caveat when the subject of a Palm Beach County showdown comes up.

Murray Smith

Murray Smith

They need to win on Wednesday first.

Dawson said, “We have to take care of business and execute.”

“I don’t think (Grandview) has a cakewalk,” said Smith, who saw FAMU High in Tallahassee over the holidays. “(FAMU High) has good athletes. I saw some talent. They didn’t play great but they still came back and won that game. I don’t think they’ll beat Grandview, but I think they could make it interesting.”

Smith’s Saints have their hands full with Orlando Christian Prep, too. Orlando Christian Prep is one of the top-ranked teams in the state, regardless of class.

“They’re obviously good and they shoot the ball well,” Smith said. “But we don’t have to be in awe. We’ve seen it all. I don’t think we’ll be intimidated.”

We’ll obviously know more by early Wednesday afternoon, but it’s hard not to think about an all-Palm Beach County championship. The two teams didn’t play in the regular season, and they’ve been on a collision course since the season started.

“We respect each other a lot,” Dawson said. “(Smith)’s always done a great job with his teams. It’s nice that both teams are up here. Hopefully we get to play.”