The new district assignments have all but guaranteed that a school north of Orlando will win the Class 1A state championship. Grand Ridge was the last school to accomplish such a feat as they defeated Faith Christian 39-38 in 2001. The new district assignments have shifted small school powers such as Orlando Christian Prep, Summit Christian and Grandview Prep to higher classifications. Now there is a contingent of North Central Florida and Panhandle schools looking to be the new “super powers” of small school basketball in Florida. Unlike the other classifications 1A goes right into the regional semifinals. Here is our take on who will move on in this round.
Malone vs. Holmes County
Malone comes into one of the most intriguing first round games in the state with a record of 24-3. The Tigers will face Holmes County which features 6’9 nationally ranked player Chris Walker. Malone defeated Holmes County in December and should take another step in returning Malone basketball back to the “Glory Days” with a very close win.
Chipley vs. Paxton
Chipley who has a record of 22-3 has been on a roll since losing a couple of games early in the season due to not having their football players. The Tigers are the No. 1 ranked team in Class 1A and will flex their muscles against a very good 21-6 Paxton squad.
Graceville vs. South Walton
Graceville (14-12) proved in the district tournament that the playoffs start a new season after upsetting top seed Cottondale who had defeated the Tigers twice in the regular season. South Walton (13-12) comes into the contest with a similar record after losing the district championship to a very talented West Gadsden squad. Head Coach Matt Anderson and Graceville will dance to the regional final.
West Gadsden vs. Cottondale
Some believe that West Gadsden (25-2) is the top team in Class 1A. Right now the Panthers are red hot. Cottondale (19-8) loss to the Panthers 71-34 earlier this season and will need several players to have a career night to defeat the Panthers this time. Not looking good for Cottondale.
Jefferson Co. vs. Hilliard
Jefferson County will be hoping that the “slipper still fits Cinderella” as the Tigers look to pull off another upset. They knocked off Hamilton County in the district championship game and now look to do the same against Hilliard. The clock will strike midnight for Jefferson County as Hilliard will move on.
Hawthorne vs. Hamilton County
The Hawthorne Hornets are 18-7 and face a Hamilton Co. squad that was upset by Jefferson Co. Hawthorne will roll in this one.
Union County vs. Villages
Union County knocked off heavy favorite Chiefland to win their first District title since 2008. Both teams come into the contest with losing records. The Villages will bow out on the road at Lake Butler in this one.
Wildwood vs. Chiefland
Wildwood won their district championship with a record 7-14. The Wildcats face Chiefland (20-2) who has a much better record but was upset in the District championship. Normally I would go with the home team but I will take the visitors who will get back on the right track.
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