Blue Devils advance to girls basketball state championship

LAKELAND, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - One more sleep and the Holmes girls basketball team will play for a state championship.

That is, if they can sleep...

The Blue Devils certainly put in a hard day's work on Monday in the semfinal against Hawthorne, led by Kinzie Nelson.

The game plan was the get it inside to number 33--5'11", the tallest player on the court and the best in the box score. Nelson's 25 points and 14 rebounds were game highs in a 56-40 win.

"In all honesty, I felt like this was a game where she could easily have 35," Coach Devon Miles said. "She had a big game, but somebody else has to step up and help her. They were quick, they were fast, they were athletic. When we attacked and tried to score and beat the press by scoring, we looked pretty good. When we played passive and they were the aggressor, I thought we turned it over. In other words, you can't start trying to be too careful."

They made it look easy, although appearances can be deceiving.

When you get on the big stage for the first time, there's bound to be a few stumbles.

It happened to Hawthorne, off to a 3 of 28 shooting. It happened to Holmes with early turnovers, Port St. Joe and Trenton too.

They'll have to battle though it in the state final. Holmes and Trenton have proven to be the best teams in the state, but they are human, after all. Nerves could certainly play a factor.

"I don't think there's any doubt about it, and here's why I say that," Coach Devon Miles said. "I think even grown people, if somebody asks you at your job to go do something you've never done before, it's the fear of the unknown. You are nervous. You may not tell anybody, that's human nature. Reflect back when you were 15, 16, and everybody's telling you 'if you do this it's gonna be--' that's even more pressure on you."

Trenton made the final thanks to a 60-40 win, overcoming a 20 point performance by Port. St. Joe eighth grader Jae Lenox.

Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT in Lakeland.