High School Sports

Miami Country Day ready to step back into national spotlight

Miami Country Day celebrates winning the 4A Championship in Lakeland on February 24, 2017.
Miami Country Day celebrates winning the 4A Championship in Lakeland on February 24, 2017. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

They celebrated another state championship — their fourth in a row.

But they had barely gotten home from Lakeland before it was time for the Miami Country Day girls’ basketball team to get back to work.

“After state, coach [Ochiel Swaby] took it easy on us for a couple of days so we could rebuild, but as soon as we got the official invitation to New York, it was back on,” senior guard Channise Lewis said.

Lewis has been at the heart of the Spartans’ steady rise to national powerhouse status over the past five years.

She and senior teammate Kelsey Marshall, who has been a part of the last three, have one more championship they would like to claim this weekend before heading off to play Division I basketball.

Beginning Friday, at Christ The King High School in Brooklyn, New York, the Spartans will try to win the Dick’s Nationals tournament for the second time in three seasons.

Miami Country Day will take on Arizona’s Seton Catholic at 1 p.m. in a semifinal that will be televised on ESPNU. The winner will take on either Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Hamilton Heights or Baltimore’s St. Frances High in the championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday. That game will be televised on ESPN2.

The Spartans (29-1), ranked No. 5 nationally by USA Today, prevailed in 2015 with a win over fellow South Florida powerhouse Fort Lauderdale Dillard at Madison Square Garden.

A victory would make a perfect ending for Lewis and Marshall.

Lewis, a 5-8 senior averaging 13.9 points, 7.2 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game, and ranked No. 77 overall in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 has committed to Illinois. But a recent coaching change at the university has made her reopen her recruiting.

Marshall, a 5-9 shooting guard, signed with the University of Miami in November.

The two have formed one of the best backcourts in the state, along with talented sophomore Maria Alvarez, and propelled Miami Country Day on one of the best championship runs by any team in the state’s history.

“What else can I ask for?” Lewis asked. “Going out like this, playing in New York, this is the only way we could possibly go out.”

Swaby hopes this tournament will serve as valuable experience for the players that will return next season hoping to keep the school’s championship run going.

Alvarez, 6-2 junior center Aasiya Berry and 5-10 junior guard/forward Asha Taylor are each expected to step into more of a leadership role next season.

“It’s going to be great for our younger kids because this event will set the tone for what our offseason will be all about,” Swaby said. “How good will these kids be next year knowing the pressure is on them? We don’t want to take a big step back for next season so this experience will be food for them to come in to the gym motivated because it will be on them to keep this going.”