Posted: 9:59 am Friday, February 21st, 2014
By Anthony Chiang
Three teams from Palm Beach County made it to Lakeland, and at least one is coming back with a state championship.
Grandview Prep defeated Sarasota Christian 45-32 in the Class 2A state championship game on Thursday despite losing star center Vionise Pierre-Louis to a right knee injury early in the second quarter.
Let’s examine the result.
1. Neydja Petithomme: Grandview’s senior guard was sensational Thursday, recording 20 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in Pierre-Louis’ absence. The Auburn commit took over, getting to the basket at will and creating open opportunities for her teammates.
Sarasota Christian did not have an answer for Petithomme’s ability to get into the paint, and that was the biggest difference between the two teams.
“When she has the ball in her hands, there is no mystery of what the potential is,” Sarasota Christian coach Brett Morrow said. “She has that little in and out move and the pro hop that gets her half way into the lane. It’s unique to try to stop that. She’s a very good player.”
She bothered the Blazers on the other side of the floor, too, as Petithomme finished with a game-high eight steals. With the help of her quick hands, Sarasota Christian ended the state championship game with 27 turnovers.
2. Defense: With Pierre-Louis out of the game, Grandview’s offensive production took a dip Thursday. But it didn’t matter because the Pride’s defense was superb.
After holding Tallahassee-FAMU to a season-low 39 points in the state semifinals, the Pride limited Sarasota Christian to a season-low 32 points in the state championship game.With Grandview overplaying the passing lanes, the Blazers had trouble just moving the ball around. The Pride finished with 18 steals and four blocks despite playing most of the game without their rim protector, Pierre-Louis.
At the end of the night, Sarasota Christian made just 26 percent of its shots.
3. Burgess & Isaac: While Petithomme was the key to Grandview’s big win, sophomores Summer Burgess and Nadiah Isaac were not far behind.
Burgess and Isaac combined for 19 points and 19 rebounds on Thursday. Burgess was all over the place, diving for loose balls and fighting for rebounds, and Isaac turned into the No. 2 option on offense once Pierre-Louis left the game.
“I’ve been around Summer for the last three years and her greatest asset is that she’s a competitor. When the ball is available, she’s going to go get it,” Pride coach Gary Downing said. “With Nadia, she was definitely the X factor this year. She’s grown throughout the season.”
With Petithomme and Pierre-Louis moving on to college, the sophomore duo will play a big role in Grandview’s success next season.
1. State title: Duh. After falling in the state semifinals each of the past two seasons, Grandview finished the mission this year and won the Class 2A state championship. It marks the program’s first state title in school history.
The Pride finished the season with a 25-2 record. The year included wins over Tallahassee-FAMU, Palm Beach Lakes and Treasure Coast, which also took part in this week’s state tournament in Lakeland.
2. Careers to remember: Petithomme and Pierre-Louis have played together since ninth grade when they were at American Heritage. Now, they will both move in different directions, as Petithomme is committed to play at Auburn and Pierre-Louis is signed to play at Oklahoma.
But their high school careers won’t be forgotten. After transferring to Grandview Prep as sophomores, the duo posted a 73-10 record and made it to Lakeland in each of the three years. It’s only fitting Petithomme and Pierre-Louis finished their careers off with a state title Thursday.
“It means a lot,” Petithomme said of leading her team to the title. “We were definitely preparing for a state championship, and coming back again showed us that we needed to work harder. This day really proves that hard work pays off.”
3. Title for Palm Beach County: Believe it or not, Grandview’s title is the first girls basketball state championship for a school from Palm Beach County since Lake Worth Christian won in 2009.
It’s not as easy as it looks. In fact, only three teams from Palm Beach County have won a girls basketball state title since 2004.
Park Vista has a chance to bump that number up to four, as the Cobras begin play in the state tournament on Friday night.
About the Author
Anthony Chiang began his writing career in Gainesville at the University of Florida’s student-run newspaper. At The Independent Florida Alligator, he covered the school’s golf, volleyball, baseball, and football teams. The Miami native has also written for the Sun Sentinel and MLB.com, following the Tampa Bay Rays.