The Winter Haven High School girls varsity basketball team will compete in the 2018 GEICO High School Basketball Nationals in late March, marking the first time a girls basketball team has represented Polk County Public Schools in a national championship.
“Everyone at Polk County Public Schools is so happy for our Winter Haven High girls basketball team,” said Superintendent Jacqueline M. Byrd.
“These girls have worked so hard, and demonstrated that anything is possible through teamwork, dedication and perseverance. They are shining examples of our school district, and we are so proud to have them represent us on the national stage. Go Blue Devils!”
The Winter Haven Blue Devils made Polk County Public Schools history earlier this month when they won their third consecutive state championship.
The team’s success at the state level earned it a place in the GEICO Nationals, which will be played March 29-31 in New York.
Winter Haven is one of four teams playing in the girls tournament, and the only team from Florida. The other participating girls teams will represent Westlake, Ga.; Central Valley, Wash.; and Hamilton Heights, Tenn.
“It means so much to us to get to represent Polk County Public Schools and its athletics programs,” said Head Coach Johnnie Lawson. “Our mindset is to take care of business. We’re practicing hard, and we’re going to play as hard as we can.”
Senior point guard Diamond Battles said she and her teammates are excited for the national championship, but also staying focused on the challenge ahead.
“It’s an amazing feeling being the first team ever to go to the nationals. It’s pretty big for us,” she said.
“We just have to keep the same mindset; a game is a game. We do the same thing: watch film, practice defense, stay together as a team. If we have the same game plan, hopefully it works out the same way (as winning a state title). Same game plan, but we have to go harder.”
The girls semifinal games will be broadcast at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday, March 30 on ESPNU. The championship game will be shown at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 31 on ESPN2. For more information on the GEICO Nationals, visit geicohoops.com.