LAKELAND, FL The Holmes girls basketball team made it to the state championship game for the first time ever, but could not add to its historic season by claiming their first state title.
The Blue Devils, on the heels of a 19-5 regular season and playoff wins over Ponce De Leon, Paxton and Hawthorne faced top ranked Trenton Tuesday in the final.
The Lady Devils played well early on, grabbing a 14-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. The second quarter turned disastrous, with turnovers and poor shooting leading the way to just two points total in the second. The Tigers took advantage with a 16-2 run that had them up at halftime 24-16.
Holmes coach Devon Miles made a defensive adjustment, moving from man coverage to a zone to try and slow down Trenton's Taniah Bowers, who was hurting Holmes with her speed. That worked early in the third quarter, as Holmes used a 11-5 spurt to get back in the game. Then a putback bucket by Kinzie Nelson tied the game at 29 early in the 4th.
From there though the Tigers put up a 14-2 run, closing out a 43-31 win. So Holmes ends the season at 22-6. Nelson leading the Blue Devils with 11 points, Goodwin with 6.
Afterwards, Miles talked about what his team accomplished this season.
"Well I think we surprised a lot of people," Miles said. "There was a lot of people who didn't think we would be Ponce De Leon. There was a lot of people that didn't think we would be Paxton and then Hawthorne. But yeah, we've come a long way, and I told them, I'm not the kind of person that sits around and pities, and is upset that something didn't go my way. Because in the reality in life, this is not going to be the first time something did not go their way. It's going to happen more than once, and you better learn how to deal with it. But we went a long way, I'm proud, I'm not embarrassed about anything we did."
As for the feeling on the bus as the team headed back north, Miles admitted the girls were down, but he knew eventually they would look back on this as a great memory.
"Well I feel better about it right now than they do, because they're young. I know how life works, so I was very satisfied. Would I be happy to win? I mean I never want to lose. To get that far, we've come a long ways, like I said, we won three or four games people didn't think we would win. You got to come down here, some of them got to see different places, they've never seen. So they should be happy. They ought to be happy. I'd be happy. I was glad to here, proud to be here."
The team returned home late Tuesday night.