Posted: 4:30 pm Monday, February 18th, 2013

Preview: Grandview Prep vs. Tallahassee-FAMU in Class 2A girls basketball state semifinals 

By Matt Porter

In his two years at Grandview Prep, coach Gary Downing has been to the state final four twice. If the Pride can’t win it all this year, it’s a good possibility they’ll be back again.

Behind juniors Neydja Petithomme and Vionise Pierre-Louis and a young supporting cast, Grandview (23-2) takes on defending state champion Tallahassee-FAMU at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Class 2A state semifinals at the Lakeland Center.

Petithomme, a 5-foot-8 combo guard, scores 22.6 points with 7.9 assists per game while shooting 42 percent (34-of-81) on three-pointers. Pierre-Louis, a 6-4 post, puts up 22.1 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 78 percent from the floor. She averages 6.2 blocks per game.

Aside from senior forward Daisy Queller, the rest of the regulars aren’t of driving age. Sophomore guard Kaitlin Conrad (12-of-21 three-pointers) and freshmen Summer Burgess and Julia Duncan are valued contributors. Seventh-grade guard Jillian Duncan, age 12, averages 20 minutes per game.

Downing, who took over before last season, is 50-7 in his two years. This year’s team returned to Lakeland despite the transfer of two starters – sophomore Jonika Garvin to Lake Worth, junior Ashley Arinus to Parkland-Douglas. Those two players, along with Petithomme and Pierre-Louis, transferred to Grandview before the 2011-12 season.

Grandview’s only losses this year were to two of the top big schools in the county, Boynton Beach and Palm Beach Lakes. In regionals, the Pride breezed to a pair of blowout wins before squeaking by Naples-First Baptist 41-39 on a last-second lay-up by Julia Duncan.

Tallahasse-FAMU, meanwhile, won its three regional tournament games by an average score of 66-18. The Rattlers have size – seven players 5-9 or taller – and lots of depth. Junior post LaKaris Salter puts up 16 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman guard Jazmine Jones averages 14 and 8.

The winner plays Land O’ Lakes-Academy at the Lakes/Hollywood-Sheridan Hills Christian winner in Wednesday’s state final.