SIDELINE SCENE: Winter sports hit stride following holiday break

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  • | 10:29 a.m. January 8, 2015
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One of the most interesting times of the year on the high school sports calendar, the return from the winter holiday break marks a period where teams in all of the winter sports get to jump back into the thick of things after some down time.

District tournaments are just around the corner, depending on the sport — days for some, weeks for others — adding to the reasons why teams are embracing busy schedules over the holiday break like never before.

Jumping right back into the thick of things, here are some storylines to keep an eye on in each sport, as district tournaments approach.


Who is going to emerge from Class 8A District 3? 

It’s a fair question, especially with regard to the runner-up spot that will be available. Evans (14-4) is 4-0 in the district so far, but that means Ocoee, West Orange, Olympia and Apopka likely will be duking it out for that runner-up spot in the district tournament, barring someone upsetting the Trojans. Also, it can’t be understated how good Ocoee has been this season, and the Knights might have the best player in Central Florida in senior guard Grant Riller.

All four teams have shown flashes of potential, and we should have a better idea of the true hierarchy by the end of the month.


How good is Olympia?

The Titans are having a breakout season under Robert Carmody and had a strong showing in the Florida Prospects Christmas Invitational. Olympia is 13-4 coming out of the holiday break and, with a deep roster, the Titans are looking to return to the state playoffs after missing out a season ago.


The Class 5A District 4 tournament figures to be an exciting one — West Orange, Ocoee and Olympia have all had strong seasons. The Warriors (5-1-3) are probably the favorite of those three programs but are young and inconsistent. West Orange has played the Knights and Titans both to a draw already, adding to the sense of unpredictability ahead.


Is Dr. Phillips for real?

There are several area girls soccer teams having good seasons, but the Panthers are the most improbable. DP’s 12-game winning streak, which ended with a draw against University on Dec. 18, was one of the biggest surprises of the season, and it will be interesting to see whether the confidence the Panthers accrued during that time translates to big wins as district tournaments start Jan. 12.

The Panthers have not lost since Oct. 30 and on Jan. 6 defeated Winter Park for the first time in program history — another in a season full of firsts.


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