The Prep Zone Insider

Mike_Ridaught_photo at SouthernBy Mike Ridaught
Twitter – @ridaught

Thursday, January 21

The first two months of 2016 are plenty busy as the winter sports begin to come to an end. In fact, the first round of the state playoffs is underway tonight in girls’ soccer.

Next week, the boys’ district soccer postseason begins, followed by girls & boys basketball and wrestling. There is an FHSAA state championship event every week during the month of February. It should be an exciting time as we wind down the winter sports season and begin to make way for the spring.

As we count down to the end of the regular season in basketball, there are plenty of big hoops games ahead. Here are just a few over the next six days.

Gainesville at P.K. Yonge (Thursday, Jan. 21) – This is a city showdown between state-ranked teams. GHS is ranked 4th in 6A & P.K. Yonge is ranked 7th in 3A. We’ll have ‘live’ audio of the game online at ThePrepZone.com

Both teams won some key games on Tuesday night. GHS (17-3) went on the road to Columbia (Lake City). The Purple Hurricanes went into the game knowing that if they won they would clinch the #1 seed and host this year’s district tournament. The ‘Canes went on a 21-0 run in the first half and that was pretty much the difference in the game in a 62-49 win. So, Gainesville will be the #1 seed in the 6A-District 4 tournament in two weeks.

P.K. Yonge (16-3) stepped out of district play last night and had a nice double digit win against a young Eastside team and they just beat an 8A team (Wekiva) on Saturday. The Blue Wave only have three losses this year. One was to Gainesville on the road by three, at defending 3A state champion Providence (Jacksonville) by four and at Lincoln Park (Fort Pierce) by one.

Right now, Gainesville is the best team in Alachua County but P.K. Yonge is a close second. How close? Well, the first time these teams faced each other, Gainesville won the game at home, 88-85 (in November). Hawthorne is ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 1A so they are right there too.

The Prep Zone Power Poll, which ranks the top 20 teams across 26 counties has Gainesville ranked 6th regionally, while P.K. Yonge is ranked 9th and Hawthorne is 14th. So basketball is pretty good in Alachua County this year which makes the Gainesville at P.K. Yonge game a big deal tonight.

North Marion at Santa Fe (Thursday, Jan. 21) – Battle between Marion County & Alachua County in the 5A-District 6 finale for both teams. Santa Fe was a district runner-up to P.K. Yonge last year, but that was in 4A-District 5. The Raiders are up in 5A this season. North Marion (4-1 in the district) is currently the #1 seed but a Santa Fe (3-2) win tomorrow would force a 3-way tie with Eastside (4-2). Tiebreaker goes to Eastside and Santa Fe, then they would have to do a blind draw or coin flip.

This would be a good battle on the football field. In fact, one of the reasons that Santa Fe got off to a slow start was because they have 6-7 guys, at least half the team, that played football and started basketball late so they are starting to get their “basketball legs” just in time for the postseason. But getting back to the tiebreaker that I mentioned, after the game tomorrow night, Eastside, North Marion and Santa Fe could be tied for first and eventually one of those three will be left out of the state playoffs because only the top two teams from each district advance.

Trenton girls’ at Oak Hall (Friday, January 22) – The Lady Tigers are 22-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 1A. Oak Hall is receiving votes in the 3A state poll.

It’s a great way to end the regular season and get ready for postseason play. The girls’ basketball district tournaments begin next week and the first round of the state playoffs is the following week so we’ll see if Trenton can make a wire-to-wire run. In 2009, the P.K. Yonge girls went all the way to the state championship game with a 29-0 record, but lost, and finished 29-1.

This Trenton team has played some larger classification schools and won so they are legit. Oak Hall has struggled of late, losing two in a row, but they get the Tigers at home. We’ll have ‘live’ video of the game on Friday night at ThePrepZone.com

Gainesville at Buchholz (Tuesday 1/26) – GHS has dominated this series under 8th-year head coach Kelly Beckham, who actually won his 700th career game last Thursday. The ‘Canes are 13-3 under Beckham against the Bobcats, including a come from behind 55-51 win in December. In that game, senior Rudy Bibb-Boyd scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter.

GHS has won 18 of the last 21 meetings in the series. However, one of those losses was last year at Buchholz, 68-67. The Purple Hurricanes won the second meeting in 2015 by eight (68-60), so the last three games have been decided by single digits.

On Tuesday night, Buchholz lost at Orange Park Oakleaf, 62-52, to secure the #4 seed in the district tournament. The Bobcats are battling injuries and a couple of concussions and are trying to get healthy so they can win a second straight district title. Nick Chase had 15, Trent Whittemore had 14 & Jalon Perry had 13, so they had balanced scoring, but they got nothing from leading scorer Jonathan Horodyski.

Even though Buchholz has been depleted, I expect them to play really well at home. They want this one.

Catch my high school basketball previews every Wednesday at 4:20 p.m. on WRUF-AM 850 & FM-95.3 Gainesville on The Tailgate with hosts Jeff Cardozo and Adam Schick, as well as this Friday, January 22, at 4:40 p.m. on Sports Time with Steve Woodard, Scot Brantley and Mark McLeod on Florida Sports Talk powered by NBC Sports (AM-1230 Gainesville, AM-900 Ocala & FM-100.1 Ocala).