Dr. Phillips girls basketball tops St. Thomas Aquinas in battle of state champions, sets sights on three-peat

After topping the Raiders 56-42, the Panthers are again showing that they're the favorites to win their third straight state title

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At the LeDawn Gibson Classic girls basketball tournament at Winter Haven High, we saw a battle of the two defending state champions from Florida’s two highest classifications: Dr. Phillips High, the back-to-back Class 7A champions, and South Florida’s St. Thomas Aquinas High, the winners of three consecutive Class 6A championships. 

Led by seniors Trinity Turner, a Georgia commit who racked up a near triple-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, and Leah Bullard, who scored 10 points and grabbed 11 boards, the Panthers (15-4) topped the Raiders (13-7), 56-42.

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With only a handful of games left before the end of the regular season, this win for Dr. Phillips, along with plenty of other impressive outings, are showing that the Panthers again have what it takes to be a championship-winning team.

But to accomplish the ultimate goal and win its third state title in a row, according to Turner, the Panthers have to keep the right mindset. 

"We just need to keep focusing in practice and going 100% out there every day. Everybody on the team knows their style of play, they know their role, so we just need to stay locked in," Turner said. 

Before the Lady Panthers fix their focus on the postseason, there are still two more tough tests left on its regular season schedule, first is Lake Highland Prep (14-4) at home on Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Keep an eye out for Highlanders’ seniors Lexi Blue, who is averaging 14.1 points and 5.4 rebounds a game, and Jada Eads, who’s adding 12.6 points a game to go along with her team-leading 7.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists. 

Then the Panthers face off against Lake Mary High (15-4) at home on Friday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. 

Sam Albuquerque is the Sports Editor for the Orange Observer. Please contact him with story ideas, results and statistics.

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Sam Albuquerque

A native of João Pessoa, Brazil, Sam Albuquerque moved in 1997 to Central Florida as a kid. After earning a communications degree in 2016 from the University of Central Florida, he started his career covering sports as a producer for a local radio station, ESPN 580 Orlando. He went on to earn a master’s degree in editorial journalism from Northwestern University, before moving to South Carolina to cover local sports for the USA Today Network’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his lovely wife, Sarah, newborn son, Noah, and dog named Skulí.

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