Sorry for the hiatus folks, but duty called. We hope you’ve missed us!
- They Gave The People What They Wanted: For the most part these (more than) past few years, the state finals in boys hoops have been snooze-fests with virtually a David vs. Goliath match-up in every class and things going very poorly for David. This season, you missed some absolute nail-biters in 7 of the 9 classes, and with two of them heading to overtime to decide the fate. Just the 5A (University School over Andrew Jackson, 72-46) and the 7A (Crestview over Dillard, 50-40) ended in double-digit margins. The Class 1A was an all-timer ending on a pair of free throw’s from a technical foul in OT with 2 seconds left, and Class 3A’s St. John Paul II from Tallahassee ending with a DUNK in OT to win a ring was simply amazing. The 8A State Champs (Blanche Ely) didn’t lead in the semifinal until the final 3 seconds and they didn’t lead Lakewood Ranch for good until the final minute of play. Seffner Christian’s bid to dethrone the new royalty of Broward County fell just short, but to hear Westminster’s HC Ehren Walhoff that was the biggest test they’ve faced in Lakeland in the four-straight years they went. Yes, it was that tough for them.
- Speaking of Seffner Christian: Nothing to be ashamed of for the Crusaders. At all. They faced some adversity in the semifinals versus Riviera Prep from Miami, then gave Westminster Academy all they could handle. They’ll obviously miss Cornelius Bobo’s leadership and contributions on the scoreboard, but having the 1-2 punch of Trigg and Jones plus only graduating 3 seniors puts the Crusaders in the pole position to get back from this region in 2020, for sure. And one last thing, their opponents in that final, Westminster Academy, just became only the SECOND team in Broward history not named Dillard to win a three-peat. That was a generational squad, and they will hv to rebuild nearly that entire roster. The window for ring is as wide open as the Montana sky at this point.
- Speaking of Dillard: Well, speaking of Hillsborough, actually. What the Terriers did to the Panthers on Friday may have directly resulted in the Panthers collapse on Saturday against an insanely aggressive Crestview squad. Hillsborough’s contest on Friday was everything-and-more of a heavyweight fight. It was a 10-7 AFC North game between the Ravens and the Steelers when you would sustain injuries by proxy because of how physical the action was. Both teams were in the 40’s, it went into overtime, and for that, Dillard was softened up like butter left out of the refrigerator for too long. When Crestview reared their ears back and went at Dillard early-and-often in the first half, there was nothing left in the tank in the second for the Panthers. That’s a credit to Hillsborough regardless of the fact they weren’t in the final game. We get it, no moral victories, no participation trophies, but that was one hell of a run for the Big Red.
- We Shall Return: Both Lakewood and Nature Coast fell short in their quests, with both of them losing to the same team from North Lauderdale, the Mighty Dragons of Stranahan. Tampa Catholic was ambushed by and Andrew Jackson team that’s loaded with underclassmen. Tampa Catholic IS nothing but underclassmen. It’s a safe bet we will see TC in Lakeland as long as the physicality that was used on them is in-turn harnessed and reciprocated towards others, but for Lakewood and Nature Coast, the road might be a little tougher. To add to the intrigue, the new classifications will be announced on Thursday using the new system, and we might have several of our big guns located in the same region, let alone classification. A final thought on the champs from Stranahan though, they were witnessed early in the new year at the Wally Keller Classic against a Lakeland team that was ranked in the T-3 in the state, and ran them out the gym. They were witnessed again in the semifinals and finals showcasing insane fitness at the end of games when their opponents were gassed. Their secret? The pool. Their HC Terrence Williams was an accomplished swimmer in his day, and he put his boys in the pool no matter where they could find one, and it showed. We know for a fact a few schools do this around the Bay Area, and we feel tons of programs should consider this some more. There’s nothing better. Seriously.
- Dual-Sport Athletes Are Back: Madison County’s Travis Jay (FSU commit) and Vincenta Mitchell had over 4,000+ yards between them in addition to Dillan Lawson, who is a baseball commit to Tallahassee Community College, and they won a ring as the biggest contributors to their team. Diwun Black, a UF inside linebacker commit from Kissimmee Osceola just dropped 35 in the finals against Wellington and had 50 for the tournament. The Voisin Twins (South Alabama commits) from Crestview along with D’marcus Purcell their point guard and SIX others from a 12-man roster for a total of nine guys played for the Bulldogs 6A state semifinal team this season. The Voisin’s and Purcell were absolute monsters with 2,400+ all-purpose yards combined for the twins and 74 tackles for Purcell and were all high double-digit scorers during the week in Lakeland. Maybe it’s time to put to rest this notion of specializing unless it’s the ONLY option at this point. Maybe Dillard should’ve called Evan Davis for the scouting report on their basketball team. Hashtag, just sayin’……