KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Fighting back after a six-point gap after one quarter, the Keystone Heights High girls basketball team dominated for the final three quarters to beat Bradford County 55-48 for the district 4-5A title Friday night at Fort White High School.
The Lady Indians (18-9), coached by former Keystone Heights standout guard Jessica Dykes-Carter, went into the tournament as the second seed behind Bradford County and beat Fort White 48-39 in the semifinals to advance. Fort White and Bradford County both had district wins over the Indians with Fort White winning 43-42 in December and Bradford County beating Keystone Heights 47-32 in early January.
“Fort White we felt we had a good game plan,”said Dykes-Carter, who has three titles in four years. “Bradford was a different team the second time we played them. They had a new coach and two girls underneath that were really good. We were not prepared for that team. We sat down and made a game plan for their big girl underneath which is what we did.”
Keystone Heights, who won the district title in 2017 with a thrilling overtime win over Bradford County, advances into the region playoffs and will host Bolles (16-9) on Thurs., Feb. 14. Bolles lost 49-35 to Raines in the district 3-5A final after beating Baldwin and Fernandina Beach in their preliminary rounds. Bolles was the district third seed with Raines and Fernandina numbers one and two. Fernandina Beach was a Class 5A Final Four finisher in 2018.
“Savannah Chennell held our points against Bradford with 20 plus points,” said Dykes-Carter. “Haley has been a strong shooter all year. They make clutch shots and it’s hard for our opposition to defend just one.”
Bradford County will travel to Raines for their region opener.
Keystone Heights won back to back titles in 1994 (2A) and 1995 (3A) under legendary coach Kathy Boatwright with Boatwright also guiding at 1997 Class 3A title. Dykes-Carter was a point guard for the 1994 and 1995 teams with a 15 point effort in the 1995 game with Holy Names.
“I’d like to go back to state again,” said Dykes-Carter. “I’ve been there before and I just tell them we go one game at a time. Coach Boatwright used to always tell us our goals are achieved one step at a time. Play each game like it’s your last and leave everything on the court. Don’t walk away thinking you’ve could have done more.”