Young Oxbridge girls basketball team eyes state championship prize


Oxbridge Academy has only one goal left ahead of it, and team leaders Kaylon Smith and Aaliyah Stanley make it clear in practice.

“They like to say, ‘ring-chasing,’ ” ThunderWolves coach Tracy Wolfe said. “They’re just motivated. In practice, they’re keeping that idea of ‘We want a ring’ on the forefront. They’re always saying it. Every drill, they’re saying it.”

Oxbridge is only two wins away from getting that ring. The first of those wins will have to come Wednesday when the ThunderWolves take on Orlando-Jones in the Class 5A state semifinals at 4 p.m. in the Lakeland Center.

The ThunderWolves’ single-minded focus becomes more impressive when the team’s youth is taken into account. Haley Race, a guard/forward hybrid player who is averaging 3.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, is the team’s only senior, and there are no juniors on the roster. The aforementioned leaders, Smith and Stanley, are both sophomores.

“I think, in a way, it’s been a blessing,” Wolfe said. “They don’t necessarily realize what they’re walking into yet. It’s been business as usual.”

Wolfe said that lack of perspective with such a young team has helped keep the ThunderWolves from getting psyched out before they even take the court.

But Wolfe also does not want her team walking into the Lakeland Center blind. When she coached at Bandys High in Catawba, North Carolina — a school of about 1,000 students about 35 miles northwest of Charlotte — she made back-to-back appearances in the state Final Four, reaching the state title game once.

“I’ve told them quite a bit,” Wolfe said. “Especially (about) the gym that we’re going to be playing at; it’s kind of a strange layout. We played in a layout like that in North Carolina, and it altered … our shooting quite a bit.”

Shooting was not an issue for the ThunderWolves in their last game, a 57-37 home win over Tampa Catholic in the regional finals. Tampa Catholic, which had a significant size advantage, forced Oxbridge to shoot the ball instead of driving the the basket. The ThunderWolves responded by making nine three-pointers.

“If they have a big down low, the threes are going to be open,” sophomore guard Alexa Zaph said after that win.

Jones has one of those taller forwards in 5-foot-9 junior Chardell Jones, who leads the Fightin’ Tigers with an average of 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Wolfe said she’s drawing on her experience of having to gameplan against one of Palm Beach County’s best players, Cardinal Newman’s Milan Morris, for Wednesday’s game.

“We feel like if we can contain (Jones and guard Jamiya Turner), as we’re capable of doing,” Wolfe said, “then the game should be in our favor.”

Grandview Prep 64, Monticello-Aucilla Christian 50: Megan Rampersad scored 16 points and Alexis Romer and Tayler Wright contributed 11 points each as the Scots defeated the Warriors in the Class 2A state semifinals in Lakeland. The Scots will face Ormond Beach-Calvary Christian at 8:30 tonight in the state final.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Former North Carolina QB starting for Texans on Sunday
Former North Carolina QB starting for Texans on Sunday

Now in his third stint with the Houston Texans since being taken by the organization in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, former North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates has received official word from coach Bill O’Brien that he will start against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Yates, who became the first UNC quarterback...
Report: SMU interim coach Jeff Traylor to take job under Chad Morris at Arkansas
Report: SMU interim coach Jeff Traylor to take job under Chad Morris at Arkansas

Chad Morris has reportedly added an assistant to his new staff at Arkansas. According to Adam Grosbard of The Dallas Morning News, SMU interim coach Jeff Traylor will be leaving to take a position on Morris’ staff with the Razorbacks. This report comes just hours after USA Today’s Dan Wolken reported that Traylor had &ldquo...
Patriots dodge bullet with Alan Branch against Dolphins
Patriots dodge bullet with Alan Branch against Dolphins

New England Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch doesn’t play an overwhelming number of defensive snaps at age-32, but the snaps he does play are often critical and that’s what would make losing him on Monday night against the Miami Dolphins tough to swallow. Branch had to leave the game in the first period against...
Two SBNation experts pick Oklahoma to win national title
Two SBNation experts pick Oklahoma to win national title

The College Football Playoff is still nearly a month away, but that doesn’t mean experts can’t start prognosticating on who will take home the national championship. Over at SBNation, a team of 10 experts picked their winners in the two semifinal games and the national title game. Six people — Alex Kirshner, ...
South Carolina recruiting: Gamecocks land third 2019 commitment
South Carolina recruiting: Gamecocks land third 2019 commitment

On Monday night, the 2019 South Carolina recruiting class landed a commitment from Myers Park High School (Charlotte, N.C.) offensive tackle Jaylen Nichols. The post South Carolina recruiting: Gamecocks land third 2019 commitment appeared first on SEC Country.
More Stories