By Shailey Klein and Scarlett Cooney
The Gadsden County Jaguars traveled to Alachua Thursday night to face the Santa Fe Raiders in the 4A boy’s basketball Regional Quarterfinal. The Raiders walked away with a commanding 66-41 victory over the Jaguars.
Junior guard Dontrell Jenkins, sophomore guard Braylon Guyden and junior guard Makai Lewis led the Raiders in scoring with 18, 15 and 10 points, respectively.
Nothing But Net
It didn’t take long for the Raiders’ offense to get hot, with Jenkins nailing a three right off the bat. Jenkins had a monster game, putting up 18 points. When asked what the team needed to do to pull out the win, Jenkins affirmed that they simply focused on the game plan.
“Buy into the coaching. The whole week we were going over our game plan. Coach was telling us what we needed to do, and we just locked in and did it,” Jenkins said.
There was nothing but buckets for Santa Fe, with Lewis, Guyden and junior guard Jamiel Watson all knocking down 3s, extending the Raiders’ lead 16-4 near the end of the first quarter.
Santa Fe’s reign extended through the second quarter. Jenkins, Lewis and junior forward Mason Brown were all putting up points, while the Jaguars were barely hanging on. The Raiders led the Jaguars 43-21 at the half.
Jaguars Hunting for Points
The Raiders continued to overwhelm the Jaguars at the start of the second half. Junior forward Mason Brown immediately drove past the Jaguar defenders to score an easy layup. Jaguars junior center Samuel Price III responded with a layup for Gadsden County, which was suffering from a 45-23 deficit. Santa Fe’s Guyden drained a three, and Lewis knocked down two free throws, giving the Raiders a 50-23 lead with 5:10 left in the third quarter.
The Jaguars had no answer for the Raiders’ stellar performance, which didn’t stop until the clock hit zero and the scoreboard flashed 66-41 in favor of the Raiders. Even though this was a knockout win for the Raiders, the work is far from over, and Dontrell Jenkins knows his team must keep moving forward.
Leading up to the game, Santa Fe coach Glen Banks emphasized that from now on his team must win to keep playing. Coach Banks believes this sense of urgency allowed his team to stay locked in throughout the game.
Santa Fe will face the top seed in 4A Region 1, the Andrew Jackson Tigers, on Feb. 22 in the regional semifinal. The Raiders must defeat the Tigers in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.