South Florida has been well-represented at the girls’ basketball state tournament with a combined 20 teams advancing to Lakeland over the past three seasons.
But for all that presence, only five teams have come home with state championships during that span (three by Fort Lauderdale powerhouse Dillard and one each by Miami Norland and Hollywood Christian).
Dillard and Norland are among a dozen South Florida squads that hope to increase that number if they can punch a ticket to Lakeland with victories in the regional finals Saturday night.
• Region 4-8A final — Miami High (23-5) vs. Miami Lourdes (27-1) at Miami Belen Jesuit: Both teams are trying to clinch their third trips to state. Lourdes is seeking its first state title and is trying to make it back to Lakeland for the first time since 2010, when it lost in the final. Virginia recruit Tiffany Suarez scored 31 points in a regional semifinal win against South Miami and is averaging 18.2 points per game.
The combination of Suarez and talented forward Kiara Palmer (Long Island University signee) will match up against Miami High’s own talented guard-center tandem of senior Amanda Mendoza and freshman Beatrice Mompremier. The Stingarees are trying to reach Lakeland for the first time since 2005 — their lone state championship season. Lourdes won both regular-season meetings.
• Region 3-8A final — Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer (22-4) at Pembroke Pines Flanagan (22-3): The Falcons are enjoying their deepest playoff push ever following an impressive comeback win against Miramar. Junior guard Stephania Oramas is averaging a team-high 18 points, 5.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game. Flanagan is facing a tall obstacle or a couple actually, as Dwyer sports an aggressive defensive team with a pair of talented post players in 6-6 Kai James (FSU signee) and 6-3 Samantha Glodis (Georgia signee).
• Region 4-7A final — Davie Nova (20-7) at Palm Beach Lakes (19-7): Nova is vying for a second trip in a row to state and third in the past five seasons. Junior guard Bernadette Devaney (team-best 15.8 points per game) hit a big shot late to beat South Broward and leads the Titans against Lakes, the team they eliminated at Nova in last year’s regional final. Lakes last made it to state in 2003.
• Region 4-6A final — Naples Barron Collier (17-13) at Miami Norland (26-3): The Vikings are looking to make it six trips to state in eight seasons and seem to be playing their best basketball of the season. Norland should have a size advantage over the Cougars, who are not a very tall team with only two players above 5-9. They are, however, a sharp-shooting squad that has made a combined 17 three-pointers in two regional victories.
• Region 4-5A final — Fort Lauderdale Dillard (25-2) at Cape Coral (25-1): The Panthers are on a quest to match South Broward as the only Broward teams to win four state titles in a row. Dillard has experience winning on the southwest coast of the state, having beaten Estero on the road in this round last season.
• Region 4-4A final — Miami Gulliver (19-9) at Coral Springs Charter (22-7): A rematch of last year’s regional final should be entertaining again, as Gulliver’s talented senior guard Jacquar Westbrooks clashes with Charter’s tandem of sophomore guard Jade Wyatt and junior center Cee Cee Wojcik. The Panthers are going for back-to-back trips to Lakeland, while Gulliver has not been since 2006.