With eyes on another state run, Calvary Christian strengthens schedule
Calvary Christian has advanced to the state final four three straight seasons -- with three straight exits in the semifinals. But this year’s team looks like it could be the school’s best. In the hope of avoiding yet another state semifinal loss, coach Brooke Sibert has beefed up the schedule.
The Warriors played a good Leesburg team (a 49-47 loss) in the preseason and face them again on Jan. 22 at the Battle of the Bay tournament at Freedom. Calvary Christian has already chalked up quality wins against Countryside, Indian Rocks Christian and Seffner Christian. Mixed in there was a close 61-56 loss to Lake Highland Prep, its only loss of the regular season.
On Saturday, the Warriors (8-1) travel to Lakewood (9-2) for a 3 p.m. game. Then there is the Florida Prospects tournament in Orlando over the winter break, a Jan. 7 game against Brooks DeBartolo (12-3), two games at currently unbeaten Montverde (11-0) and a Jan. 19 game against Palm Harbor University (13-3).
“I try to schedule based on what kind of team we have,” Sibert said. “I think this team needed to play against tough competition. We needed to play some difficult games on the road. I think that will prepare them for what’s ahead.”
Calvary is certainly loaded. Seniors Carley and Savannah Plentovich are four-year starters who are committed to Gardner-Webb. Senior forward Niaya White is a force under the basket. And senior Jenny Bollinger is another player who can get the tough points. Cindy Lin and Taylor Polasky provide depth.
Because teams in Class 3A, District 8 play each other only once, instead of twice like last season, Calvary Christian had more holes to fill on its schedule. Sibert said it can sometimes be hard to find big schools to play them.
“We’re a small Christian school and I think some of the bigger teams think it might be a bit of a lose-lose situation,” Sibert said. “If they win, well, they were supposed to win. And if they lose, oh no, they lost to a small Christian school.
“But we have a very competitive schedule this year and I think that’s good for our girls. They are a group that just wants to play. They will play against anybody.”