Palm Beach Lakes girls basketball team chasing greatness again

Jan 11, 2018
Coach Cassandra Ramming has one state championship ring - won by her 2014-15 team. This season’s Lakes squad has championship aspirations as well and is off to a 13-1 start heading into Friday night’s showdown with Miami Country Day. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Above the courtyard at Palm Beach Lakes, there’s a basketball painted on the wall commemorating the Rams’ 2014-15 state championship team. It casts a shadow over the teams that have played there the last three years. It reminds them that greatness can be accomplished there.

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So the comparisons were always going to come. With each win, there were more and more.

With a month left in the regular season and Palm Beach Lakes sitting at 13-1, it’s time to start wondering if this year’s team can match that greatness.

“All the time, all the time,” Rams coach Cassandra Rahming said about the comparisons. “But it’s different personnel, so you can’t really hold them to that standard. It’s a different team and everybody else that we’re playing against, also.”

Palm Beach Lakes is coming off an 81-22 district drubbing of Dwyer, but things get much tougher Friday as they travel to Fort Lauderdale to play Miami Country Day in a tournament. The Spartans, who are 8-7, have a deceiving record. MaxPreps ranks them as the No. 9 team in the state.

The Rams did win their first 11 games, earning the No. 3 spot in the MaxPreps state rankings. They dropped their first game on Jan. 5 to Fort Myers, and that was a four-point loss that nearly went to overtime.

“If there’s any such thing as a good loss, it was a good loss for us,” Rahming said. “First of all, they’re very competitive; they’re the defending, back-to-back (state champions).”

Part of the reason for Palm Beach Lakes’ success this year has been an explosive offense that has averaged more than 70 points per game.

“Just staying true to what we like to do, which is try to defend and fast-paced, up-tempo (offense) because of our size,” Rahming said.

Two of the players leading the way for the Rams so far have been juniors Brittany Wilcox, who is averaging 14 points and seven rebounds per game, and Ra’Shara Simmons, a first-team All-Area pick last year who is averaging 13 points, five rebounds and four steals per game.

“We’ve probably got a better connection than last year, better players,” Simmons said.

But the Rams frequently get contributions from all over the court, like when sophomore guard Keishmy Ayuso scored 30 points against Dwyer on Wednesday.

“It’s been very well-balanced,” Rahming said. “I can’t even say you can focus on this person, focus on that person, because they’re playing such great team ball. … It just depends on who’s rolling and what’s going on and the atmosphere of the game.”