Three Gainesville area basketball programs are moving on in the FHSAA 2023 playoffs. Gainesville High School (6A), Santa Fe High School (4A) and Hawthorne (1A) will all be fighting for their playoff lives within the next week.
Gainesville vs. Ponte Vedra
Friday night, Gainesville will travel to Ponte Vedra to take on the Sharks. Gainesville is coming off of a tight 47-42 win against Oakleaf Tuesday night. Ponte Vedra smoked Gulf Breeze 51-32 in its last matchup. Gainesville is led by a group of upperclassmen, and the team enters the game with a 23-6 record. Theo Stephens (16.5 PPG, 5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 2.3 SPG), Josh Hayes (14 PPG, 9 RPG, 2.2 BPG) and Anthony Leivonen (9.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG) have all put up impressive stats for the Hurricanes throughout the year.
Ponte Vedra, similar to Gainesville, is a very experienced team. Seniors Israel Nuhu, Ben Ritchie and Sam Ritchie all average over 10 points per game for the Sharks. The team finished 21-6 and have waxed its last two opponents, outscoring them 135-91.
Great highlights from @Kevin_WCJB and TV20 of Tuesday’s regional semifinal win over Oakleaf pic.twitter.com/xrZGQ2T1i2
— GHS Basketball (@CanesBKB) February 22, 2023
Santa Fe vs. The Villages Charter
The 22-6 Raiders of Santa Fe have an opportunity to advance to the state semifinals, but they’ll have to deal with the Buffaloes of The Villages Charter. Santa Fe star Dontrell Jenkins averages an impressive 18 points per game, while Makhi Lewis and Kyren Washington both average nine. The Raiders rolled over Cocoa, 60-38, in the previous round.
The Villages Charter finished the regular season with a solid 21-8 record and squeezed by North Marion by one point to advance. Forward Sam Walters, a 4-star who is committed to Alabama, averages 23.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Hawthorne vs Chipley
The Hawthorne Hornets are two wins away from being 1A state champions. Last time out, the Hornets upset Newberry by a score of 43-41. CJ Ingram (21.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.1 SPG) is the star of the show for the Hornets and will look to take them to the state championship game.
Moreover, Hawthorne’s opponent will be the 20-6 Chipley Tigers. Chipley beat the Jay Royals by a score of 63-52 to get to the semifinals. Juniors Kyler Bryant (13.3 PPG, 1.5 APG) and Izayah Eldridge (9.7 PPG) have led the charge for the Tigers, this season.