Boca Raton to play for state girls basketball championship


Unlike most of her teammates, Grace Alfieri has never played in a state semifinal. She was in middle school when Boca Raton made the state’s Final Four the past two seasons.

“I definitely had some nerves,” Alfieri said of Friday’s game. “But the seniors and the junior, Hannah (Pratt), definitely calmed me down.”

The freshman guard may have been nervous, but she didn’t show it, scoring 13 points and hitting all three of her 3-point attempts in Boca Raton’s 58-45 win over Orlando-Olympia in the Class 9A state semifinals at the Lakeland Center.

“The players stepped it up,” coach Nhu Nguyen said. “That’s what makes a good team a good team. When your star player is in foul trouble, other players are struggling … other players step up.”

The Bobcats appeared to have the game under control from the opening tip. Playing a quick, pressing defense, they forced the Titans into several turnovers, stealing the ball 20 times.

Olympia forced its way back into the game, narrowing Boca Raton’s lead to two in the second quarter. But the Bobcats’ offense warmed back up, and the defense went back to stifling the Titans.

“They had the right gameplan against us,” Olympia coach Robert Carmody said. “They hurried us up.”

Carmody cited Pratt, the 6-foot-1 forward, as Boca Raton’s most difficult defender. Pratt finished the game with a double-double, scoring 12 points and racking up 13 rebounds.

“They’re a fast team, so we had to keep up with them,” Pratt said.

Boca Raton faces Miami-Ferguson at 3 p.m. Saturday with the Class 9A state title on the line. Ferguson dominated its semifinal, beating Apopka-Wekiva 52-33 Friday after leading 30-7 at halftime.

“I (have) a lot of respect for Ferguson,” Nguyen said. “Great coach, great team, quick, can handle the ball well. So we’re going to change our game plan a little bit. Hopefully, we can slow them down.”

Senior Rachel Levy, who led Boca Raton with 16 points, Pratt and senior guard Grace Marko are the core Bobcats who have been with the team for all three trips to the state Final Four. In 2015, Boca Raton lost in the state semifinals, and last year the Bobcats lost to Vero Beach in double overtime in the championship game.

“I told them before the game … this is my third time,” Levy said. “It’s not really the feeling of loss or feeling like we did horrible that I remember. It’s the experience that I remember… and how excited I was to be here.

“So to be back and have that chance to get that feeling back is awesome.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Heat’s Hassan Whiteside on his disappearing game: ‘Coach wants me to just be in the corner and set picks’
Heat’s Hassan Whiteside on his disappearing game: ‘Coach wants me to just be in the corner and set picks’

The Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside fights for position under the basket against the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid during the first quarter of Philadelphia’s Game 3 victory. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS) MIAMI – Hassan Whiteside’s frustration is mounting The Heat’s 7-foot big man was asked what...
Five points on Miami Dolphins’ 2018 schedule easily overlooked
Five points on Miami Dolphins’ 2018 schedule easily overlooked

DeVante Parker gets yet another shot at (who else?) the Titans in the opener Sept. 9. (Getty Images) A few points to make about the Dolphins’ 2018 schedule, released Thursday: No, the AFC East has not annexed a few more teams. You may have thought it did because the same bunch of teams seem to pop up on Miami’s schedule every...
P.J. Fleck’s wife goes after Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse on social media
P.J. Fleck’s wife goes after Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse on social media

No. 4 Oregon blanks No. 2 Oklahoma for biggest win of season
No. 4 Oregon blanks No. 2 Oklahoma for biggest win of season

Oregon is peaking at just the right time. The fourth-ranked Ducks took down the second-ranked Oklahoma Sooners on Thursday, 5-0, behind a dominant outing from starting pitcher Megan Kleist. The junior tossed a one-hitter, striking out five and walking one on 86 pitches for her 14th win of the season. While Kleist blanked the...
Once again, Hassan Whiteside gives Miami Heat too little, too late
Once again, Hassan Whiteside gives Miami Heat too little, too late

White Hot is is a fine postseason slogan. Whiteside, however, is what the Miami Heat need more of against a high-scoring Philadelphia 76ers team that threatens to make this playoff run a one-and-done. Hassan Whiteside, Pat Riley’s $98 million investment in the future, is going to have to give the franchise more for its money than he has so far...
More Stories