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High school girls basketball rankings for Tampa Bay

Prior to winter break, five area teams were unbeaten. Now there is just one. Here are the first rankings of 2020.
Tampa Bay Tech and sophomore Janiah Barker ran into a bit of trouble against tough competition over the break. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
Tampa Bay Tech and sophomore Janiah Barker ran into a bit of trouble against tough competition over the break. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]
Published Jan. 6

1. Tampa Bay Tech (10-3)

This week: Tuesday vs. Armwood, Wednesday vs. King, Friday at Brandon

The scoop: Perhaps no team in the rankings wants to hit the court again more than the Titans. They are on a two-game losing streak after dropping close games to Louisville Sacred Heart and Cleveland Bradley Central at the Naples Holiday Shootout. All three losses so far are against out-of-state teams. A stretch of six local games awaits until they take on powerful Miami Country Day on Jan. 18.

Related: RELATED: A basketball bond forged in the Panhandle now benefits Tampa Bay Tech

2. Plant (11-1)

This week: Tuesday at Steinbrenner, Friday vs. Robinson, Saturday vs. Palm Beach Lakes

The scoop: The Panthers went 2-1 at the Naples Holiday Shootout. The first loss of the season came against Fayetteville (Ark.) in the first round of the tournament. Plant is extremely balanced, with guards Nyla Jean and Honor Culpepper scoring from the outside, and Kendal Cheesman and Kayla Sieper scoring inside. Plant and Tampa Bay Tech play each other at the end of the month, and right now the Panthers don’t look to be too far behind the Titans.

3. Carrollwood Day (12-2)

This week: Monday at Crystal River, Friday vs. Palm Beach Lakes, Saturday vs. Winter Haven

The scoop: The Patriots’ first two losses came over the break. The first was to Plantation American Heritage at the Polk Winter Fest Invitational. The second was against Madison Memorial (Wis.) at the Rock Holiday Classic in Windermere. Two losses against out-of-state teams is likely only going to make them better going forward. Two games at the end of this week in the Ledawn Gibson Invitational in Winter Haven will be a big test.

4. Brooks DeBartolo (11-3)

This week: Wednesday vs. Lakewood Ranch, Thursday vs. Wiregrass Ranch

The scoop: The Phoenix has won four straight to snap a two-game losing streak. They lost in the first round of the Seffner Christian holiday tournament to Saddle River (N.J.) but went on to win the last two games against out of state teams. That was followed by two wins at the SUTS New Years Classic in Coral Springs. Brooks DeBartolo is extremely balanced, with Jaela Davis, Triniti Youngblood, Amarie Godwin and Brionna McClinton all able to score.

Related: Ten Tampa Bay basketball players who starred in holiday tournaments

5. Wesley Chapel (14-2)

Wesley Chapel's Emari Lewis (15) advances the ball during and early December game against Tampa Prep. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | TImes]

This week: Wednesday vs. Tampa Catholic, Friday at Zephyrhills

The scoop: The Wildcats played six games in two holiday tournaments and won four of them. The foursome of Kayla Grant, Mia Nicholson, Arianna Rivera-Heppenstall and Emari Lewis are hard for opponents to guard. Grant was slowed by a rolled ankle against Eustis in the Hernando Holiday Classic but she will be back this week. If the Wildcats can find depth in the second half of the season, they should go far.

Related: RELATED: A basketball season of highs so far for unbeaten Wesley Chapel

6. Seffner Christian (13-5)

This week: Thursday vs. River Ridge, Saturday at Fort Myers Bishop Verot

The scoop: Not a bad holiday break for the Crusaders. They won the first two games of their holiday tournament before losing a close one to Luella (Ga.) in the final. They also went 1-1 at the SUTS New Year’s tournament. C.C. Mays, Mykaylyn Davis, Kali Barber, Tajah Spaulding and freshman Nini Davenport have all played well so far.

Related: RELATED: Host Seffner Christian lands in foul territory in tournament final

7. Tampa Prep (8-3)

This week: Tuesday at Bishop McLaughlin, Saturday vs. Berkeley Prep

The scoop: The Terrapins went 2-1 at the Tampa Bay Christmas Invitational at Seffner Christian. That included an impressive 46-45 win over Bradenton Southeast. Sophomore Kailyn Gilbert and her 33.5 points per game can carry a team. But freshman Arianna Mosley is also a scoring threat. This is a young team that is tough to deal with now and especially in the future.

8. Keswick Christian (11-1)

This week: Tuesday at Academy of the Holy Names, Thursday at North Tampa Christian Academy, Saturday vs. St. Petersburg Catholic

The scoop: The Crusaders lost their first and only game so far in the second round of their own holiday tournament against Clarksville Academy (Tenn.). They came right back with an impressive win over Clearwater. So far, they have defeated Northeast and Clearwater, so they proved they can play against the big schools. Tuesday’s game should be a good one.

Related: RELATED: Keswick Christian girls edge Clearwater in Suncoast Classic

9. Clearwater (7-4)

Clearwater's D'mya Ferguson (41), center, isn't afraid to get physical when it comes to ball possession. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]

This week: Wednesday at Dunedin, Thursday vs. Bayshore Christian

The scoop: The Tornadoes are probably ready to get going again after taking a week off. They went 1-2 at the Keswick Suncoast Classic, which included a loss to the host Crusaders. Clearwater is young but talented. Freshmen Olivia Fuller and Ace Sturdivant are advanced players. Freshman Jada Price and sophomore Iyanna George aren’t far behind. And senior D’Mya Ferguson is very good at getting the gritty points under the basket. Look for the Tornadoes to get back on track this week.

10. Jefferson (8-3)

This week: Tuesday vs. Blake, Wednesday vs. Spoto

The scoop: The Dragons had a tough draw at the Seffner holiday tournament, losing two of three games. All three of their games were against out-of-state schools. Elayza Jackson did get 24 points in the lone win against St. Agnes Academy (Texas). Now come a stretch were they can get the confidence back and finish the regular season strong.

11. Armwood (7-4)

This week: Tuesday at Tampa Bay Tech, Wednesday at Alonso, Friday at Winter Haven, Saturday vs. Barron Collier

The scoop: The Hawks took a week off and should be well rested for a big week coming up. They went 1-2 at the Seffner tournament with the win coming over American Collegiate. This is a young team, with freshmen Keyara Bromley and Maraya Cheek both averaging double figures in scoring. Junior Taviyanna Habib is the team’s leading scorer with 14.4 points per game.

12. River Ridge (10-6)

River Ridge senior Ices Utegg impressed in tournament action in South Carolina. [SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

This week: Tuesday at Wiregrass Ranch, Thursday at Seffner Christian

The scoop: The Knights were busy over the break. They defeated both Land O’Lakes and Wiregrass Ranch before playing in a tournament in South Carolina last week. They went 1-2 there, but all three games were close and they defeated Eastside (S.C.) in the opening game. Ices Utegg was named to the all-tournament team. Seffner Christian is the big game this week.

Related: RELATED: River Ridge girls basketball masters the lineup shuffle

13. Fivay (9-2)

This week: Wednesday at Sunlake, Thursday vs. Gulf

The scoop: This team is made up of only sophomores and juniors, but that has not slowed down the Falcons. Junior Marielis Creque is the top scorer with 12.8 points per game. Junior Savannah Shaffer and sophomores Kearston Brewer and Jania Jones have also pitched in. Fivay has won six straight but hasn’t played a game since Dec. 18. There could be some rust against Sunlake.

14. Lakewood (7-7)

This week: Thursday vs. Boca Ciega, Saturday at Spruce Creek

The scoop: The Spartans wanted to beef up their schedule, and that was apparent over the break. They played in two difficult tournaments and have lost four straight. All of those games are to out-of-area teams. Spruce Creek is the big one this week, followed by Clearwater on Jan. 14.

15. Northeast (11-4)

Northeast's Jada Ballard made the all-tournament team at Holy Names over the break. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]

This week: Tuesday at Largo, Thursday at Countryside, Friday at Osceola

The scoop: Since losing to Keswick Christian, the Vikings have won four of their past five. They are coming off a lopsided win over Bishop McLaughlin in the Jaguar Holiday Tournament. Senior Jada Ballard was named to the all-tournament team. The second half of the schedule isn’t nearly as difficult, so Northeast could rack up some wins this month.

Related: RELATED: No problem getting shots to fall these days for Northeast High’s Kanesha Hall

On the bubble

Hernando Christian (11-0), Wiregrass Ranch (8-3), Academy of the Holy Names (9-7), Weeki Wachee (9-5), Strawberry Crest (6-6), East Lake (8-5), Bishop McLaughlin (9-5), Mitchell (8-5)

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  3. The Land O' Lakes girls soccer team advances to the Class 5A state semifinals on Tuesday after beating Lakes Wales 7-2. (BOB PUTNAM | TIMES)
  4. Carrollwood Day senior Weeyah McGill, seen here in a game earlier this season, came up with a needed double double (21 points and 12 rebounds) Tuesday night.
  5. With star player Janiah Barker still out of the lineup, Tampa Bay Tech is getting key contributions from multiple players.
  6. Sydney Jackwin, seen here in a game earlier this season, was a force for Keswick Christian in Tuesday's region semifinals.
  7. CC Mays led Seffner Christian with 25 points and will face her former team, Carrollwood Day, on Friday night.
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  10. The high school baseball season is in full swing starting with Monday's Steve Georgiadis Memorial Tournament at Seminole High.
  11. Team USA's Bubba Nickles gets a hit against the Liberty University Flames at the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational on Wednesday.
  12. Shorecrest's Samuel Idinge poses with a team award. Created by graduated senior Brendan Smith last year "from PVC found in the locker room and a soccer ball," each gold ring indicates a team victory. Saturday's region semifinal win over Indian Rocks Christian will add ring  No. 15.
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