Dwyer girls basketball team faces tough test in state semifinals
Thursday, February 21, 2013
by Post Staff
Dwyer didn’t need any more motivation to play Dr. Phillips.
First, it’s the only team that makes Dwyer an underdog. In two regular-season games the past two years, the Orlando powerhouse beat Dwyer by 30 points and 17 points. Those wins are part of a stunning streak: 66 consecutive victories over in-state opponents and two consecutive state championships.
“It’s not describable how bad I want to smash Dr. Phillips,” junior point guard Keyanna Harris said. “They just demolished us last year. It was embarrassing.”
Arguably the state’s two best teams will meet at 7 p.m. Friday in a Class 8A state semifinal at The Lakeland Center. Orlando-Colonial plays Miami High in the other semifinal at 8:30 p.m. The winners of the semis advance to the final at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
The stakes already were high going into the game. Then, Dwyer says, Dr. Phillips senior point guard Sydnei McCaskill upped the ante.
Both McCaskill and Dwyer senior forward Sam Glodis are signed to play for Georgia. When asked recently by a Georgia coach who would win their state matchup, McCaskill — according to Glodis — laughed at the notion Dwyer had a chance.
Dwyer coach Jeryl Akins said Glodis has “been fired up ever since.”
“They’re brushing us off,” Glodis said. “We’re going to surprise them.”
That kind of talk is expected between familiar foes. Both Dwyer and Dr. Phillips are loaded with travel-team standouts who face each other in summer tournaments. If history repeats itself, Dr. Phillips will keep bragging rights.
Dr. Phillips (27-3), also nicknamed the Panthers, has a 10-deep rotation, led by its senior backcourt of McCaskill (13 points, 9.1 assists per game) and Hannah Schiable (15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists per game). According to the Orlando Sentinel, their senior class is 117-10 in four years. In an 82-65 win over Dwyer in November, Dr. Phillips pressed Dwyer into double-digit turnovers.
“Everyone’s fast, everyone’s strong, everyone’s athletic,” Glodis said of Dr. Phillips.
Dwyer’s biggest advantage is its frontcourt, with FSU signee and McDonald’s All-American Kai James (6-foot-5) in the middle and Glodis (6-3) facing up in the post. Harris (6-0) is the key to their run-and-gun offense. Seniors Kiandra Bowers (5-9) and Ayanna Holmes (5-7) can score and rebound. Senior guards Mykeria Lee and Ashley Gilbert and sophomore Kaedi Bowers provide scoring and defense off the bench.
“They cannot stop all of us,” James said. “They have to pick their poison. If they try and double-team Keyanna, we have other ball-handlers. If they double-team Kiandra, Sam gets open. If they double-team Sam, I’m going to kill someone on the block. They double-team me, Sam’s going to shoot their lights out.”
“I’m so ready,” Harris said. “There’s no way we’re going home.”
Akins said he likes the trash talk.
“The more they hear it, the more they get fired up,” he said.
Dwyer is the flag-bearer for a county looking for its first girls champion since 2009 (Lake Worth Christian). In the 37 years of the state tournament, the county has produced eight state champions. Not one has come from a large school.
Everyone at Dwyer believes they’ll be the first.
“I think we’re the best in the state,” Akins said. “They’re second best. That’s going to be a real good game.”