The place, opponent and key matchup in the backcourt will all be familiar to the Miami Country Day girls’ basketball team Tuesday.
For the fourth season in a row, the Spartans will play at The Lakeland Center in the Class 3A state tournament against Seffner Christian.
And when Channise Lewis once again squares off with Seffner’s Chelsie Hall in a matchup of two of the premier junior point guards in the nation, Miami Country Day will be hoping for the same result.
“I wish it was our chance to win a fourth state title in a row, but things happen,” Lewis said. “We lost some games this year, so it’s been a little difficult, but our goal from the beginning has been the same.”
Miami Country Day (24-6) will take on Seffner Christian on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in a semifinal as it hopes to move a victory closer to its third consecutive state title. A victory would pit the Spartans against either Community School of Naples or Jacksonville University Christian in the final at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Country Day is vying to become the first Dade team to win three state championships in a row and join Dillard (2010-2013) and South Broward (2000-2003) as the only teams in the South Florida area to win three or more state titles in a row.
The Spartans have won the three previous games against Seffner Christian at state, including their first encounter when they finished state runner-up.
“We need to take their best players out of the game and play great defense,” junior guard Kelsey Marshall said. “We know everybody’s strengths on this team, and it makes it so much easier after all these years.”
The Spartans didn’t have as pretty a record as they did last season when they went 30-2, earned a top-10 national ranking, and qualified for and won the Dick’s Nationals tournament in New York. But all six of their losses this season came up against out-of-state elite opponents at tournaments across the country.
The recent playoffs have been a breeze for the Spartans, who enter Lakeland on an 11-game winning streak and have allowed only 70 points in five playoff games (14 points allowed per game). Country Day has won those games by an average margin of 68.8 points.
Seffner Christian (27-3), which is making its fifth trip to state in the past six years, promises to give Country Day its first true test in nearly a month.
“I’m hoping the experience of the difficulty of our schedule is still with us,” Swaby said.
Hall (5-7) is ranked No. 16 nationally by ESPN among juniors, and fifth among point guards in that class. She enters the state tournament averaging 21 points per game. Hall is being recruited by several Division I schools including Louisville, Baylor, Miami, Florida, Auburn and Vanderbilt.
“[Seffner Christian] has a lot of quality role players around Chelsie, and she’s a very aggressive player,” Swaby said. “She’s always in attack mode and puts a ton of pressure on your defense in transition.”
Few teams, if any, have a backcourt as talented as the one Lewis will lead once again this week for the Spartans. Lewis (5-8), ranked No. 21 by ESPN and eighth among Class of 2017 point guards, is averaging 12.4 points and 6.4 assists per game.
Kelsey Marshall (5-10), another top-flight junior guard, is averaging a team-best 15 points per game as well as 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists. And 5-7 freshman shooting guard Maria Alvarez is also having another prolific season. Alvarez enters the tournament averaging nearly 40 percent from three-point range.
Forwards Marsha Edwards, a 5-10 senior, and Dashaun Jackson, a 6-foot junior, have given the Spartans’ frontcourt a boost after they graduated two Division I forwards in Michelle Berry (Cal State Fullerton) and Ogechi Anyagaligbo (Stony Brook).
“It’s all fun between all of us on this team,” Alvarez said. “We all know each other so well at this point, where our shooters are, our handlers are and our bigs are. It makes us so much better on the court together.”
Marlins Park will once again host a series of games over the next week starting Tuesday morning. The seven-game slate begins 10 a.m. Tuesday with Doral Academy taking on Coral Springs Christian.
Wednesday - McArthur vs. South Broward, 11 a.m.; Thursday - Hialeah Educational vs. Carol City, 10 a.m.; Monday, Feb. 22 - Miami Beach vs. Somerset Academy, 9 a.m.; Archbishop McCarthy vs. Mater Lakes, 11:45 a.m.; Tuesday, Feb. 23 - Killian vs. Coral Reef, 9 a.m.; Coral Glades vs. Cypress Bay, 11:45 a.m.
Track & field
Results from the 12th annual Fr. Ripoll S.J. Relays at Belen Jesuit’s de la Cruz Stadium.
GIRLS: Team: 1. South Florida HEAT 87; 2. John A. Ferguson 82; 3. American Heritage 56.50; 4. Coral Reef 44; 5. Homestead 44; 6. LaSalle 37; 7. Key West 25; 8. Mater Academy 24; 9. Palmer Trinity 23.50; 10. St. Brendan 22.
400 relay: 1. American Heritage B 49.79; 800 relay: 1. American Heritage B 1:44.77; 1,600 relay: 1. American Heritage A 4:04.31; 3,200 relay: 1. Mater 10:19; 6,400 relay: 1. Ferguson A 24:18.25; Distance Medley relay: 1. Ferguson A 13:51.75; 400 Shuttle Hurdle: 1. South Florida HEAT A 1:12.06; High Jump: 1. Zatoria Thompson (AH) 5-06; Pole Valut: 1. Autumn-Jade Stoner (PT) and Sidney Lampert (AH) 8-06; Long Jump: 1. Kori Collins (AH) 16-06; Triple Jump: 1. Becca Christie (SFH) 32-04.50; Shot Put: 1. Sofia Iglesias (PT) 32-01; Discus: 1. Sofia Iglesias (PT) 114-05.
BOYS: Team: 1. Belen Jesuit 76; 2. John A. Ferguson 62; 3. American Heritage and Coral Reef 55; 5. Homestead 50; 6. LaSalle 47; 7. Key West 31; 8. South Florida HEAT 29; 9. G. Holmes Braddock 29; 10. Dade Christian 21.
400 relay: 1. American Heritage A 41.86; 800 relay: 1. American Heritage A 1:32.67; 1,600 relay: 1. American Heritage A 3:23.89; 3,200 relay: 1. Coral Reef A 8:13.06; 6,400 relay: 1. Coral Reef A 18:51.61; Distance Medley relay: 1. Belen A 11:02.93; 440 Shuttle Hurdle: 1. Belen A 1:11.41; High Jump: 1. Donald Chaney (Bel) 6-00; Pole Valut: 1. Zachary Lightfoot (KW) 13-06; Long Jump: 1. Wolodymyr Pigniat (Homestead) 19-09.50; Triple Jump: 1. Michael Hicks (AH) 40-09.75; Shot Put: 1. Milton Ingraham (DC) 48-07.50. Discus: 1. Joel Dominguez (CP) 118-02.
▪ Georgia-South Forsyth d. North Broward Prep 17-2: Bradley Cooper (NBP) 2 goals.
▪ Saturday: North Broward Prep d. Delray Beach-Atlantic 18-9: Bradley Cooper 6 goals, 4 assists; Jake Fairbanks 5 goals, 1 assist; Daniel Curley 2 goals, 1 assist, 13 for 18 faceoffs; Ty Frisman 2 goals; Kosby Wonacott 1 goal; Brian Owen 1 goal.
Region 4-8A semifinal: South Miami at Coral Gables, 7
Region 4-8A semifinal: Miami High at Flanagan, 7
Region 3-8A semifinal: Cypress Bay at Coral Springs, 7
Region 4-7A semifinal: Mater Academy at McArthur, 7
Region 4-7A semifinal: Royal Palm Beach at Blanche Ely, 7
Region 4-6A semifinal: Central at Norland, 7
Region 4-6A semifinal: Boyd Anderson at Dillard, 7
Region 4-5A semifinal: Coconut Creek at Riviera Beach-Suncoast, 7
Region 4-4A semifinal: Gulliver at Westminster Christian, 7
Region 4-4A semifinal: Chaminade-Madonna at Boca-St. Andrew’s, 7
Region 4-3A semifinal: SLAM at Miami Country Day, 7
Region 4-3A semifinal: Greater Miami Academy at Archbishop Carroll, 7
Region 3-3A semifinal: Sagemont at Westminster Academy, 7
Region 4-2A semifinal: Champagnat Catholic at Miami Christian, 7
Region 4-2A semifinal: Zion Lutheran at Boca Raton-Grandview Prep, 7
If you go
What: The state girls’ basketball finals.
Where: The Lakeland Center, 701 West Lime St., Lakeland.
2015 state champions — 8A: Miami High; 7A: Palm Beach Lakes; 6A: Pensacola Pine Forest; 5A: Dillard; 4A: Orlando Lake Highland Prep; 3A: Miami Country Day; 2A: Tallahassee FAMU; 1A: Freeport.
Tuesday’s schedule — Class 1A semifinals: Madison County vs. Port St. Joe, 10 a.m.; Trenton vs. Santa Rosa Beach South Walton, noon; Class 2A semifinals: Tallahassee FAMU vs. Palm Bay Covenant Christian, 2; Boca Raton Grandview Prep vs. Land O’Lakes Academy at the Lakes, 4; Class 3A semifinals: Jacksonville University Christian vs. Community School of Naples, 6; Miami Country Day vs. Seffner Christian, 8.
Wednesday’s schedule — Class 4A semifinals: Cardinal Gibbons vs. Orlando Lake Highland Prep, 1; Havana East Gadsden vs. Tampa Brooks-DeBartolo, 3; Class 1A final: 5:05; Class 2A final: 8:05.
Thursday’s schedule — Class 5A semifinals: Fort Myers Dunbar vs. Jacksonville Ribault, 1; Lecanto vs. Orlando Bishop Moore, 3; Class 3A final: 5:05; Class 4A final: 8:05.
Friday’s schedule — Class 7A semifinals: Bradenton Lakewood Ranch vs. Niceville, 10 a.m.; South Broward vs. Winter Haven, noon; Class 6A semifinals: Northeast vs. Orlando Edgewater, 4; Fort Myers vs. Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee, 8; Class 8A semifinals: Ferguson vs. Vero Beach, 2; Sanford Seminole vs. Boca Raton, 6.
Saturday’s schedule — Class 5A final: 11:05 a.m.; Class 6A final: 1:35; Class 7A final: 4:05; Class 8A final: 7:05.