LAKELAND, Fla. – Raines had an unforgettable girls basketball season, and one forgettable afternoon.
The Vikings’ first trip to the final four was a difficult one, falling 66-41 to Oxbridge Academy in the Class 5A state semifinals on Wednesday in the Lakeland Center.
Raines finished its season 27-5.
The Vikings had just two playoff victories in their history prior to this season’s blitz to the state semifinals, using their defense to pressure their way to Lakeland.
They just couldn’t continue that magic against Oxbridge (28-2).
“Our defense has been our staple. We felt like we could get back into it even with the time running, we felt like we could get back in it with our defense," said Raines coach Julius Paden. "You saw the moments. We’re looking forward to having the chance to do this again, represent Jacksonville, but more than anything, represent William M. Raines High School. This will not be the end of girls basketball at Raines High School."
Hope vanished early for the Vikings under a first-quarter barrage by Oxbridge. After a Teyana Carswell bucket in the paint for a quick 2-0 Vikings lead, things spiraled quickly out of control.
Raines missed its next three shot attempts and had six turnovers over roughly a three-minute span.
Oxbridge’s tally during that stretch — 16 unanswered points and a lead that grew to as many as 21 by the end of the opening quarter. The ThunderWolves shot the ball well from 3-point range (8 of 18), but changed the game off of turnovers. Oxbridge had 31 points off of Raines turnovers.
Carswell (14 points, 12 rebounds) capped her stellar junior season with a double-double for Raines. Loss aside, Paden and the Vikings are positioned well for 2020.
Raines loses just two seniors to graduation.
“We’re not taking anybody for granted but we just know that we’re going to come in, put the work in [next season]. Because we got a taste of what this is like, I wanted this for them. I came into Raines and I wanted them to have the Lakeland experience. We’ve had the experience. From here on out, we expect a championship."