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Girls basketball: Defending FHSAA state champs meet next week at DP

Two of the Orlando area’s most talented girls basketball players face off Wednesday when Dr. Phillips hosts Lake Highland Prep in a showdown of defending FHSAA state champions.

“It’s going to be a big show,” Dr. Phillips coach Anthony Jones said. “It’s Jada Eads vs. Trinity Turner, one-on-one in the last saga between those two.”

Turner, a four-year starter at DP, led the Panthers to Class 7A state titles each of the past two years. She enters the weekend averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.

Eads helped Lake Highland claim its fourth consecutive 4A championship after guiding Wekiva to 6A state runner-up finishes as a freshman and sophomore. Eads has tallied 12.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game.

“This time of year, no matter who is on our schedule, the conversation always comes back to Dr. Phillips,” Lake Highland coach Al Honor said. “I think it’s more outside [noise] than inside, and I think that’s kind of what bit us last year.”

Dr. Phillips prevailed 80-64 last January at Lake Highland while handing the Highlanders their first loss vs. an Orange County team since 2017. That also marked LHP’s first setback against an FHSAA opponent since losing to Oxbridge Academy out of West Palm Beach in the 2019 state finals.

“You can throw the records out. It doesn’t matter what you did before,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a war. We’re at home, so we’ve got to protect our court.”

Turner and Eads split a pair of previous matchups during their first two seasons as varsity players.

Lexi Blue recorded her 1,000th-career point for the Highlanders on Nov. 25 and leads the team with 14.1 points per game. She also averages 5.2 rebounds.

Anilys Rolon averages 9.8 points and Elise Horne averages 8.4 rebounds for DP.

Wednesday serves as a doubleheader between the schools. The boys game tips off at 6 followed by the girls game at 7:30.

“We got down early last year and couldn’t get back in it, and that really put them on the radar with our girls,” Honor said. “We’re looking forward to it. I think it’s going to mean a whole lot more to us this year than it did last year.”

Top-ranked

Crushing losses in the state semifinals the past two seasons has not slowed Colonial in its pursuit of a repeat appearance in Lakeland.

The Grenadiers (17-2, 26.24 rating) rank No. 1 in the state among all classifications in FHSAA playoff rankings, ahead of No. 2 Lake Highland (13-4, 25.99) and No. 3 St. Thomas Aquinas (13-5, 24.28).

Colonial is all but assured the top seed in 7A Region 1, which includes No. 2 Boone (15-3), No. 4 Lake Mary (14-4), No. 5 Timber Creek (12-8), No. 6 Ocoee (12-3) and No. 8 Hagerty (8-5) among area playoff contenders.

Seniors Carmen Richardson (11.9 pts., 3.7 ast.) and Jasmynne Gibson (7.2 pts., 4.3 rbs.) entered the season as the lone returning starters for the Grenadiers. Winter Park transfer Jasmine Boca averages 9.4 points per game.

Colonial finishes the regular season at home vs. Lake Highland on Feb. 1.

Dr. Phillips (14-4, 21.10), ranked 11th in the state, is the No. 1 seed in 7A Region 2. Oak Ridge (8-8) is No. 3 and West Orange (9-7) ranks No. 4 in the region.

Notable matchups

The high school girls basketball regular season concludes Feb. 2. District tournaments begin Feb. 5. Below is a list of remaining games between top teams in the Orlando area.

Friday

Ocoee at Colonial

Windermere Prep at Lake Highland Prep

Horizon at East River

Saturday

Bishop Moore at Central Florida Christian

Tuesday

Colonial at West Orange

Ocoee at Oak Ridge

Central Florida Christian at East River

Hagerty at Gateway

Lake Minneola at Seminole

Wednesday

Lake Highland Prep at Dr. Phillips

Jan. 26

Lake Mary at Dr. Phillips

Wekiva at Umatilla

Jan. 29

Horizon at Lake Mary

Timber Creek at East River

Jan. 30

Hagerty at Lake Highland Prep

Gateway at Timber Creek

Ocoee at Deltona

Jan. 31

West Orange at Lake Highland Prep

Boone at Horizon

Feb. 1

Lake Highland Prep at Colonial

Dr. Phillips at Bishop Moore

Boone at Hagerty

Feb. 2

West Orange at Ocoee

This article originally appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email J.C. Carnahan at jcarnahan@orlandosentinel.com.