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Princess Anne vs. Lake Taylor: Top prize is on the line
Princess Anne vs. Lake Taylor: Top prize is on the line

This might sound familiar.

The Lake Taylor and Princess Anne girls basketball teams meet tonight in yet another battle between South Hampton Roads' top programs.

The Group AAA championship is the prize in a rematch of the 2010 state final won by Lake Taylor. That year the Titans had lost to Princess Anne in the Eastern Region final a week earlier.

The Titans (27-1) also lost to the Cavaliers (30-1) in this year's region title game nearly two weeks ago, leading to talk that the 7 p.m. game at Virginia Commonwealth will be a repeat of 2010.

"That's our plan," Titans coach Saundra Sawyer said.

The powerhouses met in highly anticipated region semifinals the previous two years. Princess Anne won both - going on to win a fourth state title in 2011, followed by a runner-up finish last year.

It's been the kind of rivalry that makes things interesting for local high school hoops fans.

But after the dust settles tonight, it could be the last time the programs meet in postseason.

The Virginia High School League's re-classification for the 2013-14 school year moves the schools into different classes, meaning the two could only play in a holiday tournament or regular-season game.

"South Hampton Roads has been the queen of basketball for a while now... with programs like Hampton, Phoebus, Princess Anne and us," Sawyer said. "We've been pretty dominant.

"But even with this new divisional thing, we'll still be the top programs around. Maybe now we'll both win state titles."

Princess Anne is the state's most successful Group AAA girls basketball program. The Cavaliers are competing in a 10th state tournament and a seventh championship game, both records. They hope to capture a record fifth state title.

"It would mean a lot to us to win again to show we ruled," Princess Anne coach Darnell Dozier said. "This rivalry has been very good for local basketball.

"And I think there always will be a chance to schedule games that the fans want to see."

Tonight's final might not be the prettiest game, but it's a safe bet it will be exciting.

Both coaches have a fiery style and their teams employ tenacious, in-your-face pressure that results in plenty of turnovers and neck-straining back-and-forth action.

The play of Temple-bound guard Feyonda Fitzgerald (21.4 ppg), who has scored 36 and 27 points in two state tournament games, is crucial to Lake Taylor. Jordan Mitchell-Harmel (12.2 ppg) is a defensive specialist and tough rebounder. Endia McKinney (10.1 ppg), Courtney White (8.6) ppg and Kyara Cooper (8.1 ppg) also are key cogs.

Princess Anne depends heavily on lone starting senior Morgan Cooper (12 ppg) and freshman Gadiva Hubbard (12.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg). Justyce Swango (10.3 ppg) runs the point, while Janayla White (6.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 127 blocked shots) is a force in the middle.

"Both teams want this last one," Dozier said. "It's going to come down to which kids want it the most at the end.

"This one should go down to the wire."

Sounds pretty familiar.

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