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Left to right, Dr. Phillips ninth grader Sariah Johnson and sophomore Trinity Turner (5) go at it in a practice drill in the regular season. The Panthers won Tuesday to advance to a Friday region final. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel) Winter Haven remembered Jada Eads. But the Wekiva Mustangs proved Tuesday that they are much more than just their super sophomore.
Rylan Moffitt, a senior, led four Mustangs in double-figure scoring with 14 points as Wekiva cruised to a 60-43 win against the visiting Blue Devils in a Class 6A Region 2 girls basketball semifinal.
Advertisement Wekiva (23-2), No. 3 in the FHSAA all-class rankings, will be home again on Friday to host the region final against St. Cloud, a 55-53 victor over Lake Gibson of Lakeland. The winner will advance to next week’s state semifinals at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.
In Class 7A games Tuesday, Colonial (23-7) won 44-36 over Orange Park Oakleaf (12-12) and Port Orange Spruce Creek (21-6) won 32-24 against Apopka (20-7) in Region 1; Dr. Phillips (23-6) rolled to an 88-53 win against Sarasota Riverview (20-1) in Region 2; and Freedom (18-10) lost 66-58 against Boca Raton Spanish River (20-3) in Region 3.
Advertisement Advertisement In 5A Region 2, Bishop Moore (21-6) won 44-34 against top seed Lake Wales and Kissimmee Gateway (22-7) knocked off second seed Wesley Chapel 51-37.
In 4A Region 2 reigning state champ Lake Highland Prep (22-4) got 28 points from Eleecia Carter and 17 points and 10 rebounds from Nyla Harris in a 68-35 win vs. Cocoa. The Highlanders will be home Friday against Palm Bay (19-5), which routed Eustis 82-32.
Foundation Academy finished 19-8 with a 79-45 loss to FSU High School (19-3) in 3A.
Faith Christian (25-4), the No. 1 ranked team in 2A, won 72-22 over Orlando Christian Prep. The Lions will host second-ranked Central Florida Christian Academy (22-3), which won 62-33 against Ormond Calvary Christian (21-3).
Wekiva will seek its fourth final four berth since 2017 on Friday. St. Cloud (20-8) seeks its first state semifinal appearance since 2019.
Tuesday’s game was a rematch of a 2021 6A state semifinal won by Wekiva 68-60. Eads burned the Blue Devils for 31 points in that one.
The Mustangs dominated inside against a pesky Winter Haven defense that tried to counter Wekiva’s height advantage with speed. The Blue Devils forced 27 Wekiva turnovers.
But Moffitt scored 6 points in a 13-4 second quarter that put Wekiva up 28-14 at halftime. She added 8 points in the second half.
“Inside, we knew they were going to zone up on us,” Moffitt said. “Just feeding our posts, we knew they didn’t have a lot of bigs, so we took over.”
Wekiva’s K’Nari Holliday, a 6-foot-1 senior, dominated inside with 14 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Shaniyah McCarthy contributed 10 points and 9 rebounds.
“Other teams are worried about Jada,” McCarthy said. “But we have bigs. We have forwards. We have people who can handle the ball. Once one player is down, two more step up.”
Latest Varsity Sports Jones High happy to be among 14 Orlando area region basketball hosts 12:24 PM FHSAA soccer regional finals include 10 teams from Orlando area 2:12 AM High school scores and top performers from Monday, Feb. 14 2:12 AM Eads scored 12 points, including 6 in a 13-1 game-opening run.
“Most teams worry about me a lot,” Eads said. “It’s good that my teammates come to play, and they get involved.”
Kayla Smith led Winter Haven (13-10) with 27 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals. She scored every one of her team’s points in the first quarter, which ended with Wekiva leading 15-10.
This report was first published at SentinelVarsity.com . Varsity Content Editor Buddy Collings and Robert Clark contributed to this report. Collings can be reached by email at [email protected] .
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