The Prep Zone Insider
By Mike Ridaught
Twitter – @ridaught
Wednesday, December 24
‘Twas the night before Christmas and we’re done with tournament number one. Up next is the Hitchcock’s Challenge and then the Kingdom of the Sun.
It’s that time of year in boys’ high school basketball with holiday tournaments highlighting the weeks before and after Christmas.
“The Prep Zone” will be broadcasting three holiday tournaments from Dec. 17-31. In fact, a record 47 games will be broadcast during a two-week period. You can listen to the games ‘live’ and ‘archived’ online. All audio links can be found at www.floridacast.com
Last week, we were at the Kiwanis Christmas Tournament at Bradford (Starke). Gainesville High won the three-day event with a 62-51 win over Creekside (St. Johns) in the championship game. Senior Ike Smith scored a tournament-high 27 points and was named MVP. GHS (11-1) is ranked second in the state in the Source Hoops rankings and fifth in the Prep Zone Power Poll regional rankings. The ‘Canes are headed to Atlanta (GA) for the Chick-Fil-A Classic, where the competition will get a lot tougher with Miller Grove (6-time defending state champion) and unbeaten Cedar Grove, which advanced to the Elite 8 last year.
On the eve of Christmas Eve, the Williston boys’ basketball team hosted Union County for a Class 1A-District 7 game. The Red Devils took a 27-18 lead at the half and cruised to a 57-37 win on Tuesday night to improve to 9-2 on the season, including 4-0 in the district, under first-year coach Larry Walker.
Walker was an assistant for seven years. He took over for Steve Faulkner, who is now the head coach at Columbia (Lake City). The Red Devils, who were led by freshman Darius Days with 14 points and junior Keith Hardee with 12, only have three seniors. Their losses were to 5A North Marion and Hawthorne, which is ranked second in the state in 1A.
Williston, which is ranked 9th in the state in Class 1A, will head to the Battle of the Villages this weekend where they will face Tampa Prep, the No. 4 team in the state in Class 3A, this Saturday at 2 p.m. Meanwhile, Union County will play on Friday in the Hitchcock’s Challenge at Santa Fe.
A total of 17 teams will be on display, instead of 16, at the Hitchcock’s tournament. The reason? They lost a team and added two. Kudos to Raiders’ head coach Elliot Harris, who had a team drop out late. Harris had to bring in his JV team to play on Day #2 in a losers’ bracket game, then added Trenton for the following day, to give the tournament an equal number of games. Santa Fe is now taking a bye on Day #1.
The Hitchcock’s Challenge will run Friday, Saturday, Monday & Tuesday.
On Friday morning at 10 a.m., Dixie County (Cross City) faces Suwannee (Live Oak) and UF signee Kevarrius Hayes. Then, at 11:30 a.m., Columbia takes on St. Francis Catholic (Gainesville). It’s back-to-back Alachua County games as Eastside (Gainesville) plays Hilliard next at 1 p.m.
Bell gets Foundation Academy (Winter Garden) at 2:30 p.m., followed by Hawthorne and East Gadsden (Havana) at 4 p.m. Then, Class 1A Union County gets Class 5A Archbishop McCarthy at 5:30 p.m., followed by the final game of the day when Brooks-DeBartolo (Tampa), ranked 7th in the state in 3A, faces one of Tennessee’s top teams in Pearl Cohn at 7 p.m.
Check out our tournament pages for more information, scores & Twitter updates during the tournaments. Merry Christmas!