Park Vista girls look to continue to make history

A lot has changed in the past three years for the Park Vista girls basketball team.

Before the 2011-2012 season, Park Vista had never made it past the district tournament. Before the 2012-2013 season, the Cobras had never won a girls basketball district title. And before this season, Park Vista had never recorded a 19-win regular season.

“We want to make even more history for Park Vista,” Cobras senior Emily Lochten said. “This is the best we have ever done. We’ve set a lot of new records for our school.”

Now, the Cobras are looking to accomplish another first, as they try to get past the regional quarterfinals for the first time in program history.

Third-ranked Park Vista enters the District 10-8A tournament as the No. 2 seed with a 19-4 record. The Cobras will face third-seeed Santaluces in tonight’s first round.

“Up until a few years ago, Park Vista was hardly noticed,” second-year coach Keith Mackrey said. “But I believe this is the most talented team to come through Park Vista, and I think they will be the most successful team, too.”

The trio of junior Jasmyne Martin, sophomore Kiara Meeks and Lochten has played a big part in the team’s success. The group accounts for 46.3 points per game.

Martin, who transferred into Park Vista from Palm Beach Central in the offseason, is averaging a team-high 18 points per game. Her addition has helped fill the loss of Caitlin Hayes, who averaged 18.6 points per game as a senior last season.

“We lost an 18-point scorer and we gained an 18-point scorer,” Mackrey said. “But this 18-point scorer is a lot more athletic than Caitlin. It’s basically like putting another guard on the floor, but Jasmyne can play down low.”

Martin’s versatility has helped the Cobras play at a faster pace this season. Park Vista has won many games playing an aggressive press defense that leads to fast-break points.

“We all play at a fast pace,” Martin said. “We dominate because we get a lot of points in transition.”

The Cobras won their first eight games this season, but they finished the regular season by losing two of their final five games. One of those losses came in a district game against Boca Raton, which forced the district tournament’s top seed to be decided by a coin flip.

While Boca won the coin flip, Park Vista remains the district favorite.

But that’s not Park Vista’s goal. The Cobras’ goal is to continue to make history.

“We have the players to do it this year,” Mackrey said. “Our first five pretty much matches up with just about anybody. I think we have a good chance of making it past the first round and, hopefully, a couple weeks after that.”