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Queen of Palms girls basketball event in Lee County offers exposure


12:00 AM, Dec. 20, 2012 EST

Dunbar's Keri Jewett throws a pass as teammate Kiara Desamoursa (12) looks on at the Queen of the Palms last year. / news-press.com file photo

The star players are always easy to spot on a team and college recruiters drool over the skills they showcase on the basketball court.

It's the other girls on the team that fly under the radar and find themselves without a scholarship at the conclusion of their high school career.

The Queen of Palms Classic is doing its best to fix that with a 64-team three day gauntlet with teams coming from all over the state of Florida and Kentucky.

"It's a vital opportunity for kids that may never have a college scout in the gym to see them," Dunbar girls coach and tournament founder Dwayne Donnell said. "What better thing for a college scout to come see than 64 teams. If you can play it doesn't matter, they can find you."

"We are trying to give them something to come back for; it's not for the kids everybody knows. It's for the diamonds in the rough."

The likes of University of Florida, Louisville University, Florida State University, University of Miami (FL) and the University of South Florida will be in attendance next week among others.

Dunbar suffered its only loss last season in this tournament to Class 6A Gainesville and is riding a 28 game winning streak.

They open the tournament Dec. 27 at 5 p.m. against defending Class 7A champion Sebastian River with Florida International University bound forward KP Pound.

"Exactly what we need right about now, get our butts blistered," Donnell said. "We're state champion; this will give us a chance to find out how good we are. These next games will be a rough test."

Holiday Madness Tournament

Justin Woodcox took over the East Lee basketball program seven years ago moving from Indiana with the intent of growing high school basketball in the area.

In its fourth year the tournament now fields 16 teams, 13 from the state of Florida and teams from Kentucky, Georgia and Puerto Rico.

San Antonio (PR) makes it the second consecutive year that a team from out of the country is making the trip to East Lee County. A bunch from Canada escaped the cold for sunny Southwest Florida last season.

The interest grew so much that tournament founder Woodcox was forced to use a waiting list this year.

"Looking at the teams and the caliber of the competition it should be a pretty exciting tournament," Woodcox said.

Woodcox said he feels the tournament field this year is the best it's been its in four years at East Lee County.

The tournament opens at 9:30 a.m. with two undefeated squads going head-to-head in Lehigh (11-0) and Community School of Naples (10-0).

"They're very well coached they're disciplined and they have great shooters," Lehigh coach Dawn McNew said. "We'll definitely have to come and play."

"I'm pretty excited about it, he [Woodcox] has some interesting teams in it. It's going to be a tournament full of very high level competition."

Lehigh Regional Medical Center is in its third year as a sponsor and State Farm Insurance of Lehigh is a sponsor this year.

Canterbury, Mariner events

Canterbury will be hosting an eight-team girl's basketball tournament starting today and ending Saturday.

Mariner is in its eighth year of its annual boy's basketball tournament that tips off today. The three-day event has eight local teams in the field.

 

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SW Florida

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1 Community School of Naples
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24-0-0
2 Golden Gate High School
Naples, FL
17-2-0
3 Port Charlotte High School
Port Charlotte, FL
17-5-0
4 Bishop Verot High School
Fort Myers, FL
12-4-0
5 Mariner High School
Cape Coral, FL
13-7-0

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