The high school basketball postseason is in full effect, as a variety of district championship games will be played Friday night. Coaches from various teams in the Gainesville area joined Sportscene with Steve Russell to discuss their season, team and next matchup.
Hawthorne vs Newberry
The Class 1A-District 6 championship features Newberry (21-5) and Hawthorne (8-6). Hawthorne, who were state champions in football, had a relatively short season due to most of their squad playing on the gridiron. Football season finally ended Dec. 10, causing Hawthorne to start their season Dec. 21 (Newberry started their season Dec. 1). Despite the limited regular season, Hawthorne beat Fort White 53-41 in the first round of the playoffs. Now, Hawthorne will face Newberry in Friday’s championship game. Hawthorne head coach Greg Bowie spoke about his young team’s diligence in their short season.
On the other hand, Newberry enters this game with a full season behind them and boasts solid victories. In the first round of the playoffs, the squad beat Union County 65-51. Newberry head coach Patrick Green believes his squad is truly “playing as a team” as they enter the end of the season. Also, Green and his staff have focused a lot on “being relentless” and “taking care of the little things.”
Although they are in each other’s district, Hawthorne and Newberry have not played this season. In fact, before the playoffs, Hawthorne hadn’t faced a district opponent. Expect this game to be a scrappy matchup with a strong emphasis on defense. Newberry hosts the matchup.
P.K. Yonge vs Interlachen
The Class 3A-District 2 championship sees P.K Yonge (13-10) face Interlachen (19-7). P.K. Yonge enters the matchup on a six-game winning streak, including a 67-15 stomping over Bradford in the first round of the playoffs. P.K. started the season with tough competition, including Potter’s House Christian, Cleveland (TN) and Gainesville, which pegged them at 0-3. However, the squad started to turn their season in mid-December, with four straight wins. Head coach Boderick Johnson credits the team’s turnaround to “senior leadership,” the older players taking the reins and guiding the team. Now, the squad is on a big winning streak and enters the district championship game “at a high,” as Johnson said.
Interlachen enters the championship game coming off of an impressive regular season and a first round playoff victory over Trinity Catholic (78-62). In that game, seniors Justin Herring and Jaden Perry played phenomenally. Herring put up 23 points and shot 69% from the field while Perry scored 18 points and went 3/5 on three-point shots.
The two teams have not played each other this season. P.K. Yonge is 2-0 in district play while Interlachen hasn’t faced a district opponent. The game tips off at 6 p.m. Friday night at P.K Yonge, who posts a 7-2 home record.
Santa Fe vs North Marion
The Class 4A-District 5 championship features Santa Fe (20-5) and North Marion (19-6). Santa Fe is one of the hottest high school teams in the state right now. After losing five of their first seven games of the regular season, Santa Fe completely turned it around. They enter this game on an astounding 18-game winning streak, capped off by back-to-back victories over Eastside. Head coach Glen Banks attributes the turnaround to players stepping up and playing hard. The team has seven seniors who play hard night in and night out, a key contribution to their massive win streak. Banks is especially proud of his team’s efforts on the court and their defensive ability.
North Marion enters the game on a four-game winning streak, and they defeated Palatka 80-52 in the first round of the playoffs. Notably, North Marion also beat Eastside twice this season. Santa Fe and North Marion match up well together, they are two teams who have had a tremendous regular season and are going to play hard basketball. North Marion’s offense has been a focal point in recent victories, they score 10 points more per game than Santa Fe. But Santa Fe’s defense will likely be their toughest matchup. The game tips off at 7 p.m. Friday at Santa Fe.
Other notable District Championship games
Various other championship games take place Friday night.
- Buchholz (13-13) faces Gainesville (20-6) in the Class 6A-District 2 Championship at 7 p.m at Gainesville. Gainesville beat Buchholz both times they played this season, winning their last matchup 76-55.
- Williston (20-7) faces Wildwood (19-6) in the Class 1A-District 7 Championship. The game will be played at Trenton High School. The teams played at the beginning of the season, with Williston winning 67-56.