What have the county’s varsity teams been doing over the holiday break?

When it comes to girls basketball, it hasn’t been all Christmas cookies and egg nog, that’s for sure.
City of Life and St. Cloud each went 3-0 in their brackets of the Florida Prospects Christmas Tournament at Dr. Phillips High School during the break.

The Warriors won the Gold Bracket of the tournament with three impressive wins, downing Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, 70-66, on Thursday, Windermere, 53-40, Friday and Jones, 68-66 on Saturday in the title game, which required four three-pointers in the fourth quarter to come from a four-point deficit entering the fourth quarter.

Jayshlynn Vega Rivera scored 20 points, and Janlisse Marty-Marrero and Camilla de Pool-Maisonet added 17 and 14.
It’s what those three have been doing all season, averaging double-digits in points, made more impressive when you realize Vega Rivera is a seventh-grader and de Pool-Maisonet is in eighth grade. The Warriors, the Class 2A state champions in 2018 and a regional finalist last year, are now 13-0 and have wins over a handful of public schools, like the ones in the tournament as well as Lake Nona and Poinciana earlier in the year.

“It’s been different, but these young guns are fun to coach,” Coach Ray Buggs said, noting the last two seasons were led by veteran players and presences.

The Warriors, who will play at Gateway on Jan. 16, have just one home game left, Jan. 31 against Poinciana.

The Bulldogs knocked off Strawberry Crest, 68-56, Lake Minneola, 56-49 and the host Dr. Phillips Panthers, 42-40, Thursday through Saturday to bring home the Silver Bracket trophy. Add that to winning one of two games in the Bishop Kenny Christmas Classic the weekend before in Jacksonville, and St. Cloud went 4-1 against stout competition over the break despite playing stretches of it without two starters.

“Those were three very good wins last weekend,” Coach Chad Ansbaugh said. “Strawberry Crest has two girls bigger than Eno (Inyang, the Bulldogs’ 6-1 center), Lake Minneola has the pieces to be a very good team and Dr. Phillips has the pedigree of winning their district almost every year. The light bulb went on these last two weeks about these girls playing together and figuring things out that they had to.”

Inyang was named Silver bracket MVP, and shooting guard Beka Benge, who scored her 1,000th career point right before the holiday break, was named to the All-Tournament team.

The Bulldogs are now 9-5 and will play a tough back-to-back of road games against Boone Wednesday and Seminole on Thursday. The team won’t be back home until Jan. 20 when its plays old rival Osceola. St. Cloud may be unveiling its new court surface and logos that night (it may be done before Jan. 13’s boys game against Cypress Creek, so stay tuned).

They aren’t the only girls teams having solid seasons. Gateway is 10-3 after a pair of holiday wins at New Smyrna Beach (47-37) and Ormond Beach Calvary Christian (73-6) over the break; Osceola (6-4) went 1-2 in the ultra-competitive Jim Clark Holiday Classic at Bishop Moore, beating DeLand, 68-22 on the Thursday; Celebration (7-4) was 1-1 at the Mount Dora Bible Holiday tournament, and Liberty is 5-5 heading into 2020.