Four undefeated girls’ high school basketball teams will play at GEICO Nationals this weekend at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Florida.
Lake Highland Prep (Florida) will face Paul VI (Virginia) in the first semifinal at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, while Westlake (Georgia) will face Fremont, Utah in the second semifinals at 12:30 p.m. ET, both games on ESPNU. The winners will compete against each other in a championship game on Saturday at 10 a.m. CET on ESPN2.
The coronavirus pandemic resulted in a change in the formatting of the tournament. There are only four teams in this year’s tournament compared to eight in 2019. (The boys’ tournament will consist of 10 teams.) Different states had different policies regarding college sports, so not all teams had a complete list of games.
Lake Highland Prep, the No. 3 team in the espnW 25 Power Rankings, went 19-0 in the regular season while Paul VI won No. 4 10-0. Second-placed Westlake was 20-0, while Fremont No. 15 was 26-0.
While each team has had a relatively significant hiatus since the last game, this weekend the event will not only pit four of the best high school programs against each other, but also be a showcase for some of the best prospects in the country.
“At an event like GEICO, possession is important,” said Paul VI coach Scott Allen. “We’ll make the best of it.”
Here are some key players to watch out for for any team entering the tournament this weekend.
Johnson was named Naismith High School Player of the Year. The Doi-it-All Point Guard averaged 15.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game this season.
Westlake had a historic season when it won its fourth straight championship. Johnson and his older colleague Brianna Turnage, a Virginia Tech The Signee, who is 61st overall in the class of 2021, is the only player who was represented in all four teams. They were also part of the last Westlake team that entered GEICO Nationals as newcomers.
They also boast junior Ta’Niya Latson, the 39th junior in the country. Latson, a dynamic combo guard who puts defensive pressure on the ground, has improved her shooting and finishing skills, averaging 23.2 points per game this year.
But make no mistake: Johnson is Westlake’s leader. She’s a three-tier goalscorer who can get to the edge, pull her downtown opponent up, or burn her to death. She sets the tone defensively with her ball pressure and her leadership. And as she has proven time and again, she is a winner.
Harris is an active and agile forward who owns the glass for Lake Highland Prep. She averaged 11.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game that season. She made her promise to Louisville mid-season.
She’s not the only top prospect on the squad. Harris and Alabama Signatory Kayla Blackshear, the # 75 prospect in the class of 2021, complement each other. Blackshear is a strong inside presence that can extend the defense to the high post area while patrolling through the glass at either end. The Highlanders also boast Junior Point Guard Stefanie Ingram, a UCF commit who sets the tone.
Lake Highland Prep won the United Bank Holiday Invitational and Florida 4A State Championship in December, thanks in large part to its forecourt. Blackshear and Harris are a dynamic duo, and that makes them difficult to play against.
Of all the teams in the GEICO group, Paul VI. Possibly the most unusual year. Thee Panthers didn’t play an official WCAC schedule and essentially had to put a schedule together. They hosted several home games and even played 40 minute games knowing they would be limited. You haven’t played since February 9th.
Senior Guard Isabella PerkinsThe currently unsigned player leads the team with 16.8 points and averages 3.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. But she can’t do it alone.
Enter the 6-foot-1 folk, a dejected local archer with strong foundations. The future Duke Blue Devil averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season. She also has strong decision making skills on the ground and is versatile.
However, Fremont will still have the largest frontline in the 6-foot-4 calvert and 6-foot-6 runner-up Maggie Mendelson, the 21st place in the second year in the country.
Calvert is a seasoned post player who is comfortable with her remarkable footwork as both a high post passer and a goalscorer. She led the team that season with 17.3 points, along with 7.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
Mendelson is a mobile post that lets the rim run well and also excels in high-low play. She led the team on rebounding (8.9 per game) to keep up with her 14.3 points and 1.9 blocks. Senior Point Guard Hall Fragrance recently signed up UM Kansas City and leads the team with 5.7 assists per game.