From South Florida to Slovenia, some of the top high school basketball teams in the world are set to compete in the 27th annual Junior Orange Bowl Classic.
More than 5,000 miles separate the teams involved in one of the more intriguing matchups of the girls’ bracket, which along with the boys’ field begins Monday at Ronald Reagan High School in Doral.
Miami High, a team chasing its third consecutive state championship, is off to a hot start and will take on Gimnazija Bezigrad in a quarterfinal at 3:30 p.m. Monday. Gimnazija features three players from the Slovenian Under-18 national team — Annamaria Prezelj, Ela Micunivic (a silver medalist at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China) and Peta Krupenko — all of whom led Slovenia to a fifth-place finish at the 2015 European Under-18 championships.
The Stingarees are off to an 11-1 start a year after graduating All-American Beatrice Mompremier, now a freshman at Baylor, and are one of the county’s best.
The girls’ bracket also features district rivals Lourdes (13-2) and Ferguson (9-4), once again two of the top contenders in Class 8A, as well as Fort Lauderdale (8-5) and St. Thomas Aquinas (9-4), two of Broward County’s hopefuls this season in Class 7A.
Cumberland Valley (Pennsylvania) and Putnam City West (Oklahoma) are also in the girls’ bracket. Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year Kelly Jekot, a Villanova commitment, leads Cumberland Valley, along with her younger sister Katie Jekot, a highly rated junior. Putnam City West is led by senior Areanna Combs, an Oklahoma State commitment.
The Miami High boys’ squad is slated to compete in the tournament as planned Monday despite some speculation early in the season that it would have to vacate their place in it following an incident at an out-of-town holiday tournament a week ago.
Miami High players were reportedly involved in an on-court scuffle with a team from Georgia at the recent King of the Bluegrass tournament in Kentucky, which led to the suspension of several players from that team. The FHSAA did not sanction Miami High and any suspensions to any of the Stingarees’ players involved would be handled by the school.
Miami High is slated to play Zion Lutheran (11-3), one of Broward’s best, at 1:30 p.m. Monday in a boys’ quarterfinal.
Also in the boys’ field is Dr. Krop and Coral Gables, two upcoming teams that hope to make a run in the Class 8A bracket. The Lightning plays Class 2A state powerhouse Orlando Christian Prep at noon Monday.
Monday’s quarterfinals — Girls: Fort Lauderdale vs. Putnam City West (OK), 9 a.m.; Ferguson vs. St. Thomas Aquinas, 10:30 a.m.; Miami High vs. Gimnazija Bezigrad (Slovenia), 3:30; Lourdes vs. Cumberland Valley (PA), 5; Boys: Krop vs. Orlando Christian Prep, noon; Miami High vs. Zion Lutheran, 1:30; Gulliver Prep vs. Cumberland Valley (PA), 6:30; Coral Gables vs. Gonzaga College (DC), 8; Tuesday’s semifinals — Girls: 3:30 and 5; Boys: 6:30 and 8; Consolation games: 9 a.m.; Wednesday’s girls’ final: 6:30; Boys’ final: 8.