Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

2016 Year In Review: PERFECT!! Highlands Floats To The Title Over Landmark

Mandarin High School- Highlands capped off a perfect season in Middle School Girls Basketball by defeating Landmark 29-18 to become champions for the 2015-2016 season. Their incredible season featured them over powering most opponents by half time and scoring the most points in middle school basketball this season. They scored 568 points and held opponents to just 135 points in the regular season. They were by far the most dominant team in Middle School. IMG_9840But for the championship game, they faced the most dangerous team in the playoffs, the Landmark Seahawks.

Landmark, winners of the East Division was superbly coached, and possessed arguably the best center in girls middle school basketball (Caitlin McGee). Any coach will tell you that there are two things that you just can’t coach, speed and size. Landmark possessed size which made them very dangerous. But they would discover fairly early that Highlands possessed the other immeasurable intangible… speed!

In the blink of an eye, the Wildcats pounced on the Seahawks 12-0 in the first quarter. Their suffocating defense and blazing speed got the best of the seahawks. They had obviously prepared for the best team in basketball, but some may have underestimated just how talented they were. One Landmark Seahawk was over heard saying during the game, ” I knew they were fast, but not that fast.” The player referring to the way Highlands attacked the paint with the lightning quick skills of none other than #15 Nyla Allen. Allen dribbled left and right, all over the court. IMG_9842She was the Wildcat’s main power source on offense and she charged them in the first half. If she didn’t hit big shot from 20 feet, she was driving to the basket for lay ins. She was virtually unstoppable in the first half.

But it wasn’t just offense, the wildcats defense completely shut down the Landmark offense as well. Seahawk guards were hounded in the back court, committing turnovers, and struggling to get shots off. Se’lah Reddick and her teammates swarmed the ball, making it even harder for seahawks players to execute plays. Reddick would also benefit on the offensive end, making baskets from assists from Allen.  At halftime the score stood at 23-3 Highlands! Coach Smith of Landmark gave his girls an inspiring pep talk at halftime. He huddled them close and made sure to sit eye level with them in order to look into their hearts.

He clearly wanted to get a message across to his team that they were better than what they displayed in the first half. He would look for his team to respond with pride and passion in the second half, and that’s exactly what they did. Caitlin McGee came out like she was shot out of a cannon.IMG_9805 She established the low post with her frame creating mismatches, and she began to convert layups and second chance points with offensive rebounds. She began to have her way with the smaller forwards from Highlands, as Landmark initiated a third quarter run. The Seahawks scored 11 unanswered points thanks to the defense of the team including players like Aryalona Williams. Before anyone knew it, Highland’s 20 point lead had shrunk to 11 points by the start of the fourth 25-14. It was a valiant effort by Landmark as they showed why they were the second best team in girl’s middle school basketball. But hopes of a comeback would be slammed by the wildcats, as they stiffened their defense and took over the game for good. Nyla Allen would be named the MVP of the game, as the Highlands Wildcats with Coach Carter completed their perfect season.


Check out the photo gallery from this game below! And don’t forget to check back with Duval Sports for compete post game interviews, and highlights of this game!

Photos by Andre’ Ellis (Duval Sports)






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