BONIFAY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - On the road again...going places the Holmes Blue Devils have frequently been.
The girls basketball team loaded up the bus Sunday morning and hit the highway towards Lakeland for the 1A Final Four.
Holmes (21-6) has yet to win a state championship in girls hoops, although they have come close in recent seasons. The Blue Devils have made it to the state quarterfinals seven of the last eight years, advancing to the semifinals three times (most recently in 2017).
Head coach Devon Miles said they played their best basketball over the summer...until this recent run. Three of their last four wins have come by 15 points or more, squeaking past Paxton 63-60 last time out.
The Blue Devils look to Rhianna Goodwin and Kinzie Nelson often right now, but that hasn't always been the case.
Their journey is another in a long line of Panhandle perseverance tales, although in this case, it's physical challenges ailing the team throughout the year.
"Every kid on this varsity roster, maybe with the exception of one or two at the most, has been injured," Miles said. "Some of them have been injured two or three different times. I've had more people miss more practices and more games this year than probably I've had at the varsity level the first eleven years I've been here."
In that context, a deep playoff run might seem unlikely. Until recently, Miles believed this was the case. But then something occurred to him and his team--something that has proven to be a difference maker down the stretch.
"A lot of times when I was playing them I only had six or seven kids on the JV and seven kids on the varsity. I kept telling my players, 'look, y'all just keep playing. Everybody's getting playing time. The district tournament rolls around and we throw these JV players with the varsity, we'll be a better team.'"
Monday morning at 10 a.m. Eastern against Hawthorne (22-4), the Blue Devils will find out if they'll be the better team again.