Miami Country Day team celebrates winning county-best fourth state title in a row
Miami Country Day has made some of the state’s best girls’ basketball look overwhelmed the past four years.
Add Jacksonville Providence to that growing list.
Country Day crushed the previously unbeaten Stallions 81-40 on Friday night in the Class 4A final to win their fourth consecutive state championship at The Lakeland Center.
Miami Country Day (29-1) surpassed Monsignor Pace and Miami High for the most state championships in the sport by a Miami-Dade County team.
The Spartans matched South Broward, Dillard and Laurel Hill for the second-longest state championship streak and are now only one behind Jacksonville Ribault’s record of five in a row (1999-2003).
The win might have also assured the Spartans, who are ranked No. 7 nationally by USA Today, of their second invitation in three years to the Dick’s Nationals tournament in New York. Country Day won the event in 2015.
“We have kids that have bought in to the day-to-day commitment,” Miami Country Day coach Ochiel Swaby said. “It’s moments like these that makes it easy for them to put in the hard work and know they’ll be rewarded.”
The convincing victory, which followed up their 39-point win over Seffner Christian in the semifinals on Wednesday, wrapped up a remarkable five-year run for senior guard Channise Lewis, who is heading to the University of Illinois and was a part of all four state titles.
“This is such a hard thing to do even once or twice,” Lewis said. “I’m out of words. All the work we put in came through.”
Lewis and Kelsey Marshall, a University of Miami signee who joined the team three seasons ago, formed one of the best guard tandems in the country and showed why again Friday.
Marshall finished with 26 points, five rebounds and four steals, and Lewis fell one rebound short of a triple-double with 12 points, 12 assists and nine boards.
“It’s been amazing playing for this coaching staff and pushing me to be a better player,” Marshall said. “Playing with this group has been amazing.”
Junior Maria Alvarez isn’t leaving for college yet.
And with the way she can shoot, Miami Country Day is glad to keep her.
Alvarez, who shot only two three-pointers in the semifinals, hit four triples in the first quarter to set the tone for the blowout.
Sprinkle in three more by Marshall, three more by Asha Taylor and one by reserve Sydney Shaw and Country Day went 12 of 30 from long distance.
The Spartans had the mercy rule running clock going by the midway point of the third quarter and led by as many as 45 with 1:16 left.
After the game, Swaby was asked if his team had discussed trying to win their fifth in a row.
Swaby said he would be happy with just winning a district title because he loses his core group of seniors.
But one of his underclassmen spoke up and said: “We’ll be back here next year — five in a row.”
MCD (29-1): Berry 9, M. Alvarez 17, Lewis 12, Taylor 12, Marshall 26, Shaw 5. PRV (27-1): Statkus 2, Kuhlman 10, Davis 10, Young 5, Mills 5, L. Alvarez 4, Cannon 4. Half: MCD 48-23. Three-pointers: M. Alvarez 5, Taylor 3, Marshall 3, Shaw, Kuhlman 2, Mills. Rebounds: Lewis, Kuhlman 9. Assists: Lewis 12. Steals: Lewis, Marshall 4. Blocks: Berry, Lewis 2.
If you go
What: State girls’ basketball finals.
Where: The Lakeland Center, 701 W. Lime Street, Lakeland.
When: Through Saturday.
Admission: $10 per day; Parking: $10.
Friday’s results — Class 8A semifinals: South Broward 50, Fleming Island 35; Winter Haven 68, Naples Gulf Coast 41; Class 9A semifinals: Ferguson 52, Wekiva 33; Boca Raton 58, Orlando Olympia 45; Class 4A final: Miami Country Day 81, Jacksonville Providence 40.
Saturday’s schedule — Class 5A final: Tallahassee Florida High vs. Orlando Jones, 10 a.m.; Class 6A final: Jacksonville Ribault vs. St. Petersburg Lakewood, 12:30; Class 9A final: Ferguson vs. Boca Raton, 3; Class 8A final: South Broward vs. Winter Haven, 5:30; Class 7A final: Fort Walton Beach vs. Fort Myers, 8.