The Dr. Phillips (Fla.) High girls basketball team captured the ESPN Rise National High School Invitational title on Saturday, but that crown may have inadvertently crimped the playoff push of one of the school's most popular spring sports in the process.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, five of Dr. Phillips' nine girls basketball players are also significant contributors to the Panthers' female flag football team, which is undefeated and among the state's highest-ranked teams. While the flag football team has taken huge steps forward while integrating its girls basketball stars, those plans took a back seat to the school's girls basketball preparations and competition in the suburban Washington, D.C., area.
While some schools might have had a bitter battle between coaches over when and where the dually dedicated girls would practice, Dr. Phillips avoided that conundrum because of a simple, happy coincidence: Both teams are led by the same coach.
"We've been juggling back and forth with practice," Anthony Jones, who leads both teams, told the Sentinel. "We practiced basketball and then drove over to Olympia to play a football game [last week]. The good thing is this is Spring Break week for us, so we didn't have any flag football games scheduled."
The Panthers flag football team will return to action this week, trying to build on what the girls basketball program accomplished at the ESPN Rise championship. Dr. Phillips won the title with a 60-45 victory over Murry Bergtraum (N.Y.) High, all while citing VCU and Butler's Final Four exploits as motivation to overcome its low seeding in the event.
"We're excited to be even considered,'' Jones told the Sentinel. "Our team captains said they wanted to come and win it. They raised the bar. If VCU can do it, if Butler can do it, then heck, we can do it."
That message also applies to the Dr. Phillips flag football team, which is finally back to full focus after a strange but exciting midseason interlude for five of the team's key players.