Miami Country Day’s 5-8 senior point guard Channise Lewis might be one of the most popular recruits in the country right now.
Lewis, who said last week she’s reopening her recruitment after Illinois hired a new coach, scored 21 points and added seven assists on Friday afternoon to lead her Spartans to a big win on national TV.
The Spartans (30-1) defeated Seton Catholic (Chandler, Arizona), 55-48, in a Dick’s Nationals semifinal game at Christ the King’s gym in New York City.
“She knows she didn’t play well the last time we were here [in 2015],” said MCD coach Ochiel Swaby, who has led the Spartans to four consecutive state titles. “She redeemed herself.”
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Miami Country Day advanced to play Hamilton Heights (Chattanooga, Tennessee) in Saturday’s championship game. Hamilton Heights knocked off previously undefeated St. Frances (Baltimore, Maryland), 56-55, in overtime.
ESPN2 will televise the title game, starting at 10 a.m. The Spartans are ranked sixth in the country by USA Today and won this tournament in 2015. Hamilton Heights (29-1) is ranked eighth.
The Spartans, in essence, won Friday’s game in the first quarter when they committed zero turnovers and led 15-2. Seton went 1 of 10 from the floor.
MCD extended its lead to 20-4 in the second quarter, led 30-18 at the half and 46-30 after three periods.
Seton (29-3), led by 6-2 twin sisters, Jenn and LeeAnne Wirth, who are committed to Gonzaga, put together a 10-0 run to close its deficit to 52-48 with 14 seconds left.
But Lewis, who is ranked by ESPNW as the No. 77 prospect in the nation in the Class of 2017 but is one of just five uncommitted top-100 players in the country, made two free throws and then added a steal on the next possession to clinch the win.
Swaby used only six players on Friday and went to his bench for just five minutes, from Sydney Shaw.
Lewis, who made 8 of 12 shots, and sophomore guard Maria Alvarez (eight points) did not leave the court. Senior guard Kelsey Marshall, who has signed with the Miami Hurricanes, played 30 minutes and had eight points.
The Spartans also got 10 points and nine rebounds from Asha Taylor and eight points from Aasiya Berry.
Swaby said his biggest concern is having his kids being as rested as possible given the quick turnaround for Saturday’s final.
“When you only play [six] kids, you are going to lose your legs a bit at the end,” Swaby said. “We have a great trainer with us. Hopefully, with some ice and rest, our kids can get their legs up and under them.
”We will be at the gym at 7:30 [Saturday morning] for our pregame shoot-around. We’re sticking to our routine.”