The Gainesville High Purple Hurricanes (21-9) are in Lakeland this afternoon as they play Miami Norland (24-5) in the Class 6A state semifinal game in boy’s basketball. The Canes have been on an incredible run since their loss in the district championship game, defeating Leesburg (who beat them in districts) in regional semifinals and Orlando Edgewater (who was ranked No. 1 by Source Hoops) 56-55 in the regional final game. Hurricane coach Kelly Beckham says after all these victories his team is confident in their abilities, but he hopes they are ready come game time.
Their opponent, the Miami Norland Vikings, are the defending state champions and they have won three state titles in six years. Norland has height, speed and is just all-around aggressive and Beckham knows how tough they will be to beat.
The Hurricanes are led by 6-foot-6 junior guard Isaiah Jackson who sits at the top of team stats in points (16.0), rebounds (7.7) and assists (5.4) per game. Meanwhile, the Vikings junior guard Zach Johnson has led Norland in scoring, putting up 29 and 27 points in the last two playoffs games. Norland’s other junior, 6-foot-7 center Tyrell Williams, grabbed 14 boards in the Vikings’ regional semifinal win.
The two teams face off for a chance to get to the state title game today at noon.