In case you missed it on Thursday, Jan. 11, Mike Ridaught joined Jeff Cardozo, Zach Alboverdi & Pat Dooley on “The Tailgate” on WRUF-98.1 FM & 850 AM at 4:45 p.m to talk high school sports. Here are the things they discussed on ThePrepZone.com Sports Report Presented by SunState Federal Credit Union:
The Eastside boys’ basketball team is off to a great start. They were undefeated heading into the Christmas break. Where are they at right now?
Yeah, they were actually the only undefeated county team heading into Christmas. The Rams started out 10-0 before losing to Doral Academy at the Hitchcock’s Challenge on December the 29th. They bounced back to crush Lake City Columbia, 70-36, to finish 3rd in the tournament. They recently lost to Auburndale this past Saturday at the Dante Anderson Memorial Invitational but they did bounce back to beat Santa Fe on the road last night, 55-52. That put them at 5-0 in Class 6A-District 6. They’re 12-2 overall and I think could be a tough out in the Class 6A state playoffs. Their two losses were to Class 7A teams so they haven’t lost to a 6A team yet this year.
I think the thing that makes the Rams tough to guard is that they have a number of guys who can beat you. Malik Robertson, Jimmy Johnson, Anthony Richardson, the star quarterback on the football team, and Anthony Wright – all those guys average seven points or more, and that doesn’t include their point guard James Pope, who does a little bit of everything. They’ve got depth and they have Pop Williams, whose been coaching over 20 years at Eastside and led them to their only state title 11 years ago (that 2007 team, which was led by Dante Anderson, beat former Gators Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons in the state semifinals en route to winning state). I’m not ready to say that this Eastside team is good enough to win state but I definitely think they are a top 10 team in 6A and good enough to make a run at one. And Pop said point guard was something they were missing last year. They’ve got it this year and if you want to make a run at state you need good guard play, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a Teen Wolf.
With only a month remaining in the regular season, which boys basketball team would you say is the best in Alachua County right now?
Gainesville, Eastside & Hawthorne would be my top three teams and right now I would put them in that order. Gainesville has played the tougher schedule. They won the Braford Christmas Tournament a few weeks ago and had to beat then Class 8A No. 2 Creekside (St. Johns) in the semifinals to get to the championship game. At the Kingdom of the Sun they let double-digit leads slip away against two defending state champions in Orlando Christian Prep and Buford (GA), which went on to win the tournament. Eastside hosts Hawthorne this Saturday night and then it’s Gainesville & Eastside from Santa Fe College next Friday night. So the good news is that with head-to-head games coming up we’ll find out soon if I have them in the right order.
Gainesville has P.K. Yonge up first tomorrow night at the Purple Palace. P.K. Yonge actually won the first meeting back in late-November in their season opener, but GHS played that game without Christian Miller-Cardwell, who was suspended for the game. Gainesville is definitely a better team with Miller-Cardwell. P.K. Yonge’s record might not be as flashy at 7-8 but they’re still a team to watch out for. They’ve played a tough schedule. Unfortunately, their leading scorer from last year, Byron Smith, transferred to the Villages at the start of this year. However, the Blue Wave are still a playoff contender in Class 4A.
Hawthorne would make my top 3 because despite being a small school they can play with the big boys. MaxPreps has them second in the state in Class 1A. They’ve been to four state semifinals since 2012. The Hornets are 11-4 overall with losses to Trinity Catholic, Doral Academy, Pensacola and Bradford (Starke) – all bigger schools. In fact, they beat Bradford by eight this past Friday in the 2nd meeting and they also have a win against Class 7A Vanguard (Ocala). Devin Lawrence is averaging 15 points and five rebounds per game, plus Kahleil Jackson, former Gator Willie Jackson’s son, is also averaging 15 per game. They have six guys that average 6.3 points or more, with a total of 13 guys scoring points for them this year, so like Eastside they have some depth.
Buchholz (Gainesville) has been OK at times but they are below .500. Same with Santa Fe, OK at times in a win against P.K. Yonge, plus they played Eastside close on their home floor last night, but they lost their first three to open the season. They’re improving though. We might have more than three county teams get in to the playoffs but right now I’d have to say GHS, Eastside and Hawthorne are my top three.
This weekend, P.K. Yonge will host the Blue Wave Classic girls’ basketball tournament featuring six state-ranked teams, two defending state champions and two state runners-up.
About a half dozen teams participating are area teams: The Rock, Eastside, Gainesville, Trenton, P.K. Yonge and West Port (Ocala). There are two games tomorrow night. At 6 p.m., Eastside will play Providence (Jacksonville). The Stallions were Class 4A state runners-up last season. Class 9A Dr. Phillips (Orlando) will face Rickards (Tallahassee) at 7:30 p.m. Rickards is ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 6A by MaxPreps.
Then on Saturday, there are seven games starting at noon. Almost every one of them features a playoff team from a year ago. The Rock will play Providence in the first game. Class 1A No. 4 Trenton, which was state runners-up two years ago, will play Class 9A Dr. Phillips at 1:30. GHS will play defending 3A state champion FAMU (Tallahassee) at 4:30. Then, the last three games should be really good. At 6 p.m., defending 1A state champion Wildwood takes on Class 5A state runner-up Florida High (Tallahassee), at 7:30 p.m. Class 5A No. 5 Lake Highland Prep (Orlando) faces top-ranked 6A Rickards, followed by P.K. Yonge in the late game with a 9 p.m. tip against West Port. P.K. Yonge and Gainesville are the top girls’ teams in the area and both will be there. We’ll have a ‘live’ video broadcast of half the games on Saturday at ThePrepZone.com.
For the latest in high school sports in Gainesville, check out our daily reports on 106.9 FM every weekday around 7:50 a.m. Here is a link to the archives.