Posted: 6:09 am Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Boys Hoops: Inside the state finals 

By Jodie Wagner

One hurdle remains for Grandview Prep as it prepares to defend its Class 2A boys basketball championship today in Lakeland, and it’s a familiar one.

The Pride (25-5) will play Orlando Christian Prep (29-1) in a rematch of last year’s state championship game, which Grandview won 51-40. Tip-off is set for 3:35 p.m

“This is our fifth time playing them up here at the state tournament and we were finally able to beat them last year,” Pride coach Joe Dawson said. “It’s a nice thing. We know we have a big task ahead of us. They’re ranked 20th in the country and they’ve been ranked No. 1 all year in our class. We know we have to play a perfect game in order to beat them.”

The Warriors will be a tough test for the young Pride, which returns just one starter from last year’s team and does not have a senior on its roster.

Orlando Christian, which has advanced to the state tournament for seven consecutive years, is a veteran team with seven seniors on its roster, including Central Florida signee Adonys Henriquez.

The senior averages 14.4 points per game and is one of four players for the Warriors who averages at least 10 points per game.

Defense and patience will be key for the Pride, Dawson said.

“We have to keep the game low-scoring,” Dawson said. “We have to patient on offense and move the ball and take some time off. We can’t get in a running game with them going up and down, because they’re very talented in that aspect.”

Junior guard Jamal Palmer is expected to play a big role on offense for Grandview, which defeated Tallahassee-FAMU 81-70 in Tuesday’s state semifinal game. He scored 29 points against the Rattlers and hit 13-of-16 free throws.