Posted: 9:09 am Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Boys Hoops: Inside the state semifinals 

By Jodie Wagner

Different team, same result for the Grandview Prep boys basketball team.

The Pride won its first-ever state championship last season in its seventh trip to Lakeland, and will go for two in a row this week with a new-look team.

Grandview returned just one starter this season – sophomore guard Juwan Frazier – but added added two high-scoring guards in juniors Jamal Palmer and Jordan Coblin and a tough inside presence in junior forward Abdul Dial and sophomore center Jack Marcelin.

None of the four newcomers has played in a state basketball tournament.

“Every year is different for us, this year especially,” Grandview coach Joe Dawson said.  “With four new starters that haven’t experienced this, our kids are real excited. We’re all excited about getting to play in that atmosphere and compete for the state championship.”

The Rattlers (21-8) present a big obstacle for the Pride (24-5) in today’s 10 a.m. Class 2A semifinal.

FAMU, which edged Winter Garden-Foundation Academy 43-42 in Friday’s regional finals, features a pair of talented guards in seniors J.T. Escobar and Tre Anderson.

Escobar averages 30 points per game and Anderson averages 20, and containing them will be key for Grandview.

“We’re going to have to make them work for every basket,” Dawson said. “We have our hands full on defense trying to stop those guys, and that’s going to be our focus. We know it’s a tough challenge ahead of us.”

John I. Leonard plays Winter Park Friday at 7 p.m. in a Class 8A state semifinal. I’ll have a preview of that game later this week.