Girls basketball: Dr. Phillips edges Lake Highland Prep; Colonial remains No. 1

Leah Bullard has fit right in at Dr. Phillips since moving from one girls basketball state championship team to another over the summer.

“It’s been about communication and bonding,” Bullard said. “As soon as I joined the team I connected with them.”

The senior forward averaged 8.8 points and 7.8 rebounds last season for Class 2A champion Faith Christian.

On Wednesday, Bullard’s 19 points led Dr. Phillips (17-4) during a 73-70 home win vs. four-time defending 4A champion Lake Highland Prep (14-5).

“We really needed this win,” Bullard said. “We needed to prove something, because we have our name dragged through the mud all the time.”

Bullard, who went by Leah Barnes while at Faith Christian, entered the game averaging 7.4 points and 6.8 rebounds for the defending back-to-back 7A champs.

“Last year was tough for me,” Bullard said. “There was a lot of adversity I went through, but I stuck through it. Now I can beat anything. All you need is God.”

Bullard’s versatility on the court adds an additional dimension to an already outstanding team.

“She can handle the ball, she can play defense and she can play multiple positions,” DP coach Anthony Jones said. “That’s something we didn’t have in our program. That really showed tonight with our depth and substitutions. It’s made us stronger.”

DP holds on

A 3-pointer by Lake Highland senior Lexi Blue to open the fourth quarter knotted Wednesday’s game at 58-58 in front of a near-capacity crowd.

DP took the lead for good moments later on a 3 by junior Anilys Rolon. The Panthers held off the Highlanders in the final period by scoring eight of their final 15 points from the foul line.

“This is what it’s all about,” Jones said. “Central Florida couldn’t have asked for anything better than this. Two well-coached teams. Two powerhouses. The ball could’ve gone either way.”

Senior Trinity Turner scored 16 points and junior Sariah Johnson finished with 13 points for DP.

Lake Highland senior Jada Eads, who drained a 3 to get the Highlanders to 72-70 with 46 seconds remaining, went for 15 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.

Blue led LHP with 16 points and 5 rebounds. Bri Rivera had 15 points and Camila De Pool added 13 points.

Dr. Phillips won 80-64 when the teams played last January at Lake Highland.

“This is the type of game that will prepare you for later in the postseason,” Jones said. “We prepared for this like it was a state championship game. We wanted to come out and make every possession count.”

Up next

Dr. Phillips finishes the regular season with a Friday home game vs. Lake Mary (17-4) and road games next week at Daytona Beach Mainland (9-11) and Bishop Moore (10-10).

The Panthers are the No. 3 team in 7A FHSAA playoff power rankings behind No. 1 Colonial (21-2) and No. 2 Winter Haven (18-5).

DP and Colonial scored impressive wins last weekend vs. 3-time defending 6A champion Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (14-7) in the LeDawn Gibson Classic at Winter Haven.

Dr. Phillips won 56-42 behind 13 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists from Turner and 10 points and 11 rebounds from Bullard.

Colonial won 51-46 in double overtime as Jasmine Bocca totaled 16 points and Carmen Richardson (5 rebounds, 5 assists) and Jasmynne Gibson (14 rebounds) each scored 11.

Lake Highland, ranked No. 1 in 4A, ends its season next Thursday at Colonial at 7 p.m. LHP has won seven in a row in the series since 2014, including the past two meetings by single digits.

The Highlanders were scheduled to face Windermere Prep (14-5) on Thursday. They host Hagerty (9-6) on Tuesday and West Orange (11-9) on Wednesday.

Small schools

Windermere Prep and Central Florida Christian Academy (15-4) will likely maintain their current standing in regional rankings no matter what plays out the remainder of the regular season.

Windermere, in its first year under long-time travel ball coach Darren Evans, ranks No. 3 in 3A Region 2 behind last year’s region finalists Seffner Christian (17-3) and King’s Academy (13-8) out of West Palm Beach.

Senior Zoe Sedo recently set a new Lakers’ record for most 3s made in a game (7) during a 66-57 win vs. Melbourne Holy Trinity (9-10). Sedo is one of two starters that returned from last year’s 17-9 team.

CFCA is in its second season under former Wekiva coach Tommie Butts.

The Eagles, ranked No. 3 overall in 2A and No. 1 in Region 2, lost in last year’s regional championship game 61-52 to eventual champion Faith Christian.

Faith folded its girls basketball program this offseason despite reaching the state tournament in 2022 and 2023.

This article originally appeared on Email J.C. Carnahan at