4A: Lake Highland Prep Gets 2nd Straight Title
Lakeland – It’s not supposed to look this easy.
Lake Highland Prep overcame a timid start at The Lakeland Center on Thursday to run away with its second consecutive Class 4A girls basketball state championship.
The Highlanders (29-3) made 11 3-pointers and shot 40-percent from the field in a dominant 72-30 win over Tampa Brooks-DeBartolo. The Highlanders also won big in the semifinals, 69-34, over Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons.
“It was all about getting defensive stops and the girls figuring out what to do with their post players and our mismatches,” Lake Highland coach Al Honor said. “We knew we could get some shots from the corners and once the girls got comfortable I knew we’d take it to another gear.”
Lake Highland’s lone senior went out with a bang in her final game.
Jordan Lewis entered the night needing just nine points to reach 2,000 for her career. The University of Alabama signee surpassed that mark on a 3-pointer with 4:41 left in the first half to put the Highlanders in front 24-11.
Brooks-DeBartolo (26-5) stood little chance from there.
Lewis finished with a triple-double by scoring 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting and finishing with 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals. Four of her baskets came from beyond the arc, though plenty of other scoring opportunities were dished off to teammates.
“I just wanted to show everybody that it’s a team game and that everyone can contribute no matter what,” Lewis said.
Lewis scored 15 points and had eight assists in the first half, helping Lake Highland build a 43-16 lead at the break.
Rachel Jablonski drained three 3-pointers and finished with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Highlanders. Jiselle Havas added 12 points, six rebounds and three steals.
Lake Highland got off to a slow start as the size of Brooks-Debartolo forced the Highlanders into low-percentage shots and early turnovers. Lake Highland would go on to outrebound the Phoenix by a staggering 52-27 margin and hold Brooks-DeBartolo to 25 percent shooting for the field. LHP grabbed 27 offensive rebounds.
A 3-pointer and jumper by Alexis Allen gave Brooks-Debartolo a brief 4-3 lead before the flood gates opened. Lake Highland took over for good when Lewis dished off to Jablonski for a layup with four minutes to play in the first quarter.
Allen led Brooks-Debartolo with nine points.
The state title win for Lake Highland is the third in the program’s history. The Highlanders also won it all in 1998 and placed runner-up in 2000.