Oxbridge Claims 5A Title

West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy came into the 5A title game ranked No.1 in the state and the Thunderwolves left no doubt that they indeed are Florida’s best 5A team.

The Thunderwolves (27-5) were never tested as they rolled to an impressive 55-39 victory over Lake Highland Prep to win the 5A Girls Basketball State Championship Thursday at the RP Funding Center.

Aaliyah Stanley ignited a quick Thunderwolves first-quarter start as she connected on three of four 3-point shots for nine points as Oxbridge Academy rolled to 25 points in the quarter.

A tenacious full-court pressing defense not only set a fast pace, but also repeatedly caused the Highlanders to rush shots as they shot 3-for-14 in that first quarter and trailed 25-8.

With leads ranging from 16 to 20 points in the second quarter, Oxbridge Academy was up 39-20 at the half, led by Alexa Zaph and Stanley, who had 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Lake Highland (24-7) did make one run, outscoring Oxbridge Academy 11-5 in the third quarter, narrowing the margin to 44-31 heading into the final quarter.

However, Oxbridge again turned up the full-court press intensity another level, running off eight straight points to open the quarter. When Stanley made a steal, she took the ball down the left sideline all the way to the basket and her left-handed layup put Oxbridge up 52-33 with 4:08 remaining.

“It feels great; it’s a relief,” said Oxbridge coach Tracy Wolfe.

“I am incredibly proud of our girls and this is a moment I will remember the rest of my life.

“We had three players lose family members this year.

“In addition with us blowing a 17-point lead to Jones last year here, this team really bonded together and is more than a team. We really are family.”

“They came out swinging,” said Highlanders coach Al Honor.

“I knew we were in for a tough game the way they shot in the first quarter.

“But hey, I am proud of my girls. We fought to the end.”

Oxbridge had four girls in double figures as Zaph (18 points), Haley Howarth (13), Stanley (12) and Kaylon Smith (10) led the way.

Zanoria Cruz had 15 points to lead the Highlanders.

Jiselle Havas, who will play next year at Lafayette (PA), had 12 points and 6 rebounds.

Kayla Blackshear collected 12 rebounds.

Oxbridge Academy (55) – Nashani Gilbert-taylor 0-1 2-3 2, Aaliyah Stanley 4-12 1-4 12, Haley Howarth 5-9 0-0 13, Taylor Race 0-0 0-0 0, Natalie Zoller 0-0 0-0 0, Tra’Shauna Agnew 0-0 0-0 0, Alexa Zaph 4-9 9-11 18, Kaylon Smith 5-10 0-0 10. Totals 18-41 12-18 55

Lake Highland Prep (39) – Eleecia Carter 2-8 1-1 5, Jiselle Havas 5-14 1-1 12, Myla Hill 0-0 0-0 0, Sierra Godbolt 2-7 0-0 4, Mackenzie Warner 0-0 1-2 1, Anya Mascarenhas 0-1 0-0 0, Avery Fogel 0-0 0-0 0, Zanoria Cruz 5-13 5-6 15, Kayla Blackshear 1-8 0-0 2. Totals 15-51 8-10 39

Oxbridge Academy;25;14;05;11;—55

Lake Highland Prep;08;12;11;08;—39

FG%: 5A Oxbridge Academy .439, 5A Lake Highland Prep .294. 3-pt FG:5A Oxbridge Academy 7-17 (Stanley 3-8, Howarth 3-5, Zaph 1-4), 5A Lake Highland Prep 1-11 (Carter 0-2, Havas 1-6, Godbolt 0-1, Mascarenhas 0-1, Cruz 0-1). Rebounds: 5A Oxbridge Academy 32 (Stanley 11), 5A Lake Highland Prep 32 (Blackshear 12). Fouls 5A Oxbridge Academy 13, 5A Lake Highland Prep 17. Fouled out: Hill . Technical: none. Assists: 5A Oxbridge Academy 10 (Stanley 4), 5A Lake Highland Prep 7 (Godbolt 3). Steals: 5A Oxbridge Academy 15 (Stanley 5), 5A Lake Highland Prep 11 (Havas 5). Blocked shots: 5A Oxbridge Academy 3 (Howarth 1, Agnew 1, Smith 1), 5A Lake Highland Prep 6 (Blackshear 5). Turnovers: 5A Oxbridge Academy 20, 5A Lake Highland Prep 20.

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