Girls basketball: Class 7A state semifinal preview

Girls basketball state semifinals

All games at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.  Admission is $10 in advance, $13 on the day of the event. Parking is $10.

Class 7A

Plant (24-3) vs. Orange Park Oakleaf (24-2), 12:30

How they got here: Plant d. Sarasota Riverview 52-26, d. Orlando Oak Ridge 63-29. Oakleaf d. Lake Mary 66-63, d. Spruce Creek 65-52, d. Timber Creek 76-61. 

Top players: Plant: F Kendal Cheesman, Sr. (17.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.7 blocked shots per game); G Nyla Jean, Sr. (16.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.6 steals per game); G Tanner Strickland, So. (8.0 points, 3.0 rebounds per game). Oakleaf: G Taliah Scott, So. (23.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists per game); F/G Fantasia James, So., (15.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 blocked shots per game); G Kaylah Turner, So. (15.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.4 steals per game). 

Outlook: Both teams are ranked among the top three in 7A and the top 20 overall in the state by MaxPreps. The Panthers, ranked No. 1 in 7A, are playing in the state semifinals for the second straight season and are trying to make it back to the final after losing in the championship game a year ago. Since the district tournament started earlier this month, Plant has demolished overmatched opponents, winning each of the last four games by 26 or more points. This is a veteran squad, led a pair of Division I-A-bound seniors, forward Kendal Cheesman (Vanderbilt) and guard Nyla Jean (Georgia State). Oakleaf, ranked No. 3 in 7A, is making its first state semifinal appearance. The Knights have played well against a schedule that included teams mostly within the Jacksonville area. They are led by a trio of sophomores — Taliah Scott, Fantasia James and Kaylah Turner.