Williston Holds Off State Ranked Newberry in 56-48 Victory

By Hugh Green and Abby Ogier

The Williston Red Devils played host to the Newberry Panthers in a non-district matchup Friday night. It was a sold-out crowd in the gym at Williston Middle High School to watch this great contest. The Red Devils had lost two of their last three coming into this one. However, they were coming off a thrilling win against North Marion High on Thursday night. Newberry came into this game, winners of their last four, and six of their last seven. These winning ways did not continue for the Panthers on Friday as Williston won 56-48 in an electrifying matchup.

Williston Jumps Out to Early Lead

To begin the game, the Red Devils won the tip-off and scored an immediate go-ahead basket to put them up 2-0. The Red Devil’s full-court press allowed them to get a steal and send the ball to Sophomore Kyler Lamb for the foul but more importantly the and -one basket. Now, Williston up 5-0 in the first minute of the game. The sea of red rose to their feet and began to bring the energy. After a missed basket by the Panthers, the Devils went up 7-0 and a timeout was called by Newberry. There is no better way to start against their state-ranked rivals. Williston hadn’t missed a basket yet and the crowd was loving it.

As the first quarter continued, the Red Devils never laid off the gas, they were dominating on both sides of the ball. All rebounds were in their hands and all the baskets were dropping in their favor. When the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter, the Red Devils were out to a convincing 25-8 lead.

Defensive Second Quarter

After the Red Devils’ hot start, Newberry’s defense started showing up in the second quarter. They forced a total of eight turnovers in this quarter alone while giving up just five points to Williston. The Devils missed their first three shots from the field and added just one free throw in the first few minutes. 

Fans from both sides were on their feet cheering each of their teams on. Feeding off this energy, Williston forced turnover after turnover. However, they weren’t able to capitalize off many of these mistakes by the Panthers. 

Both defenses came to play in the second period, and it showed. Williston shot just 25 percent on 2-of-8 shooting in the second with the Panthers harassing them at every turn. Newberry scored the final basket of the quarter with about a minute left. They outscored the Devils 8-5 in the second but Williston was still ahead 30-16 going into the half.

Before the start of the second half, Abby Ogier caught up with Williston head coach, Jim Ervin. Here’s what he had to say:

Newberry Starts Mounting a Comeback

Most of the same energy that was being put out in the second quarter carried over into the third. The Williston offense started off the quarter very slowly. The Devils had three quick turnovers before they even shot it once. These offensive woes continued for their shooting as they missed their first four attempts of the half.

The Red Devils’ defense, on the other hand, continued to play well as they mounted four steals in the quarter. They were also not allowing many second-chance opportunities for the Panthers. Many of their trips down the floor were one-and-done, which must have pleased Coach Ervin.

Williston’s offense gave the ball up a total of nine times in the third quarter. They shot just 3-10 from the field and 0-4 from the charity stripe. Newberry won the quarter as they outscored the Devils 16-7. This included a great buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the period. The Panthers pulled to within five at the end of the quarter with the score Williston, 37, Newberry, 32.

Williston Holds On to Win

Ending the third quarter in a close 37-32, the Devils’ smallest lead so far in this game, made for a very exciting fourth. Both fan bases would roar into “boos” at any questionable call, the players started to get more aggressive. Tensions were high for this last quarter in the sold-out gym. 

The Red Devils didn’t play their best the quarter with only making 36 percent of their attempted 11 field goals. The game’s highest scorer, 8th grader, JT Tipton, continued to showcase his skills when the Panthers started to send the double team his way. 

Because of their lead, the Red Devils got fouled quite a few times, and they were in the bonus for the second half of the quarter. Luckily, their free throws were falling 68 percent of the time leaving them at 11-of-16 for free throws just in the 4th quarter. 

Inside the last four minutes, things started tightening up. Williston had just five turnovers in the fourth quarter, and four of them being in the last four minutes. 

The game continued to carry at its fast pace. The Red Devils needed to slow it down into a settled offense to waste some time, but they were unable to do so. By not being able to resist the urge to shoot the open shot, things started to tighten up. Inside two minutes, the game was within four points. Both crowds wanted to cheer louder than the other on opposite sides of the court. 

Finally, the Red Devils’ shots started to fall again allowing them to pull off a 56-48 victory.

What’s Next for the Red Devils?

Williston’s next game will be an away contest against the Gainesville Hurricanes on Tuesday night. This will be an exciting matchup between two teams who’ve had fantastic 14-8 seasons thus far.

Follow @HGreen_15 on Twitter for more.

About Hugh Green

Hugh is a third year student majoring in Journalism: Sports and Media at the University of Florida.

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