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Is one city big enough for a husband and wife who coach separate No. 1-ranked prep girls basketball teams?

Prep Rally

A husband and wife from Orlando each coach separate high school girls basketball teams in the area and both have their squads ranked No. 1 in their respective districts. Luckily, they won't have to face each other in the state tournament.

Alex de la Fe has served as head coach of Evans (Orlando, Fla.) High for the past five seasons. His Trojans (18-8) face Lake Howell (Winter Park, Fla.) in the District 4 championship on Thursday. In her first season at the helm of Orlando's First Academy, Julie de la Fe's Royals (17-6) host the first round of the District 5 tourney on Thursday.

Thankfully, Alex's Trojans play at the Class 7A level and Julie's Royals play in Class 3A, so the de la Fe family won't need to spend any extra money on marital counseling come state tournament time, when they're expecting their first child in late February.

"We do have some pressure on there with the kid coming, but we're excited," Alex told the Orlando Sentinel. "We both love the game and love being around the kids. I don't know that we feel so much pressure, because it's just a game, but I know that we're excited. We're excited about going into the playoffs and seeing how well our teams are going to be doing. And we're definitely excited about the kid. We're super excited."

The due date of Feb. 20 for their baby boy falls on the day the Class 3A Final Four begins.

"If he waits until then, and we get that far, that would be really interesting," added Julie, "but until then it's scouting, it's just getting our teams ready and it actually keeps the focus off all of the pregnancy stuff a little bit -- just being focused on basketball."

The two coaches met at the NCAA Women's Final Four in St. Louis four years ago, and their shared love of basketball has been a focal point of their relationship ever since.

"We can be out at dinner, and all of a sudden, we will start using salt and pepper shakers, napkins, sugar packets (to design plays)," said the former Julie Runner, who served as head coach of Boone (Orlando, Fla.) High for the 2009-10 season and as an assistant under her husband at Evans for two years. "I have learned some plays from him, but really we have two different-type of players so we can't use a lot of the same plays."

"It's hard for them to have a conversation that doesn't end up with them talking about basketball," Julie's father Jerry Runner, who serves as a scorekeeper during games for both Evans and First Academy, told the Sentinel.

The two teams participated in the Trojans Thanksgiving Showcase, hosted at Evans High, and while both squads finished 2-0 during the tournament, husband and wife didn't have to face each other. It's probably better that way.

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