Normally, we begin our high school season coverage at the Jacksonville Jackson Pre-Season Classic. However, this year we decided to change things up a bit and take in the Saturday edition of the school’s Thanksgiving Classic. This was a great chance to see some of the best teams in North Florida and we were not disappointed.
Orange Park Oakleaf vs. Tallahassee Lincoln
One of the best teams in the Panhandle had a short turnaround time after playing on Friday. Lincoln looked to have no ill effects from playing at 10:30AM, getting out to a 10-6 lead in the first four minutes. At that point, Oakleaf got things going, finishing the period on a 10-4 run to lead by two, 16-14, going into the second quarter.
Oakleaf was able to maintain its lead throughout the period, though Lincoln had more than its share of opportunities to take back the lead. With three minutes left until the break, the score was tied at 24-24. Oakleaf was able to keep Lincoln at bay and head to the locker room up 33-31.
Lincoln got off to a fast start in the third quarter, going on a 6-0 run to take the lead. It didn’t take long for Oakleaf to tie the score at 39-39, but then Lincoln continued its spurt, essentially going on an 8-2 run to pull ahead by the score of 47-41, forcing an Oakleaf timeout with 4:10 left to play in the period. At the end of the third, Lincoln led by four, 52-48.
In the final quarter, Lincoln would slowly extend its lead and led by nine, 62-53, halfway thru the period. At that point, Lincoln would slow the game down, forcing Oakleaf to foul to get the ball back. Lincoln would ultimately hold Oakleaf off from the free throw line, winning by the score of 68-59.
Lincoln was led by Josh Robertson with 16 points while Jayden Bates added 15 points, Bryce Cummings had 14 points and Jaylen Auston finished with 11 points.
Oakleaf got 17 points from David Campere and 12 points from Cameron Coachman.
Jacksonville Paxon vs. Pensacola HS
Pensacola played Friday without its star player, Caleb Young, who was nursing a calf injury. He felt good enough on Saturday to give it a go.
In a bit of a surprise, Pensacola got out to a fast start. Paxon finally came around and by the end of the first period, found itself down only three at 16-13.
The first four minutes of the second quarter found Paxon with fresher legs than the visitors from the west. A 10-3 run over the first four minutes gave Paxon a four point lead at 23-19. Pensacola was able to shave the margin to three at 31-28, at the break.
In the third quarter, every time Pensacola seemed to be on the verge of breaking through, Paxon had an answer. Pensacola was within two at 39-37, but then lost momentum as Paxon closed out the quarter with an 8-0 run to lead by double digits, 47-37, going into the final period.
Pensacola seemed gassed in the fourth and Paxon was able to keep them at bay with little trouble. Eventually, Paxon would go on to win by nine, 57-48.
Paxon was led Camden Tyner with 21 points while both Kyle Jones and Abraham Garjah each contributed 10 points.
For Pensacola, Young, playing at about 70% according to the coaches, had 20 points while Bryan Harris tossed in 11 points.
Jacksonville Jackson vs. Marietta GA HS
Normally Jackson would play in “prime time” but Saturday’s opponent, Marietta, out of the suburbs north of Atlanta, had a long ride ahead and wanted to get an earlier start. The host Tigers obliged but once the game started, no favors were granted.
In short, Jackson controlled the game from start to finish. Marietta took a timeout just one minute into the game after Jackson got out to a quick 4-0 lead. It only got worse from there. However, Jackson never held more than a ten point lead until late in the final quarter when Marietta was forced to both foul to get the ball back and launch threes to try to cut into the deficit. Both backfired and Jackson was able to ultimately win by fifteen, 62-47.
Maybe more interesting than the game itself was the game within the game between 6’9 Stephon Payne of Jackson and 6’8 senior Izaiyah Nelson of Marietta. Both are long, athletic, and have the ability to control the paint. Payne had a good start to the game, scoring 8 of Jackson’s 17 first quarter points. He ultimately finished with 19 points, the final two on a lob dunk that sent the pro-Tiger crowd into a howl of jubilation.
For Nelson, he had a bit of a rough start to the contest but he got better as the game wore on. He may have only scored 9 points but his 13 rebounds and 4 blocks kept Marietta in the game.
Jackson was led by Payne’s 19 points while Andre Myers finished with 18 points.
Marietta’s Charles Gauthier had 18 points.
Fleming Island HS vs. Tampa Catholic
Tampa Catholic had a rough Friday night in Jacksonville, losing big to host school Jackson. Saturday was an opportunity for redemption.
Both teams seemed a bit sluggish out of the gate. The score was only 4-4 after four minutes of playing time. Fleming Island hit the last shot of the quarter to lead by two, 14-12.
Tampa Catholic responded quickly in the second quarter and though neither team was setting any kind of scoring records, Tampa Catholic lied 19-18 with 3:30 left in the period. At that point, Fleming Island reeled off a 10-3 run to lead by six, 28-22 with a minute left. At the break, Fleming Island’s lead was five, 29-24.
Fleming Island was able to keep that kind of lead to the midway point of the third quarter. It was at that time that Tampa Catholic’s two primary ball-handlers, junior Eddrin Bronson and freshman Isaiah Campbell-Finch, got into foul trouble and had to sit. Fleming Island took advantage of the situation and extended their lead to ten, 40-30, with just over two minutes to play in the third. The two guards would come back in to cut the deficit to seven, 42-35, going into the final period of play.
A quick 4-0 burst by Fleming Island put the lead back to double digits and seemingly took the air out of Tampa Catholic. TC never really threatened again and the Eagles of Fleming Island would go on to win by the score of 60-46.
Fleming Island was led by Antoine Sandy with 18 points while Colton Zapp added 14 points and Demarion Valmyr chipped in 10 points. Bennie McDuffie, a 5’7 senior guard may have only put four points on the scoreboard, but his ability to control the ball, pace of play, and ultimately the game itself was very impressive. We had him for ten assists and a pair of steals in the contest.
Tampa Catholic was paced by Karter Knox’s 23 points.
Jacksonville Raines vs. Ga Lovejoy
This game was never in doubt as Raines jumped out to an 11-0 lead before Lovejoy could get on the scoreboard. The Vikings’ lead never dipped below double-digits and they won easily by a score of 65-48.
Raines was led by Jeffrey Little with 18 points, while Ashton West tossed in 13 points and Trevon Nevarez added 11 points.
Nick Hill of Lovejoy led his team with 9 points.
Jacksonville Riverside vs. Tallahassee Rickards
Rickards got out early and led 14-7 after one quarter of play. Riverside finally got itself in gear in the second period. With four minutes gone, the Generals got to within two, 19-17. Riverside tied the game at 21-21 with just over a minute to play and took their first lead of the contest, 23-21, on a basket before the buzzer to end the second quarter.
Riverside led throughout the third quarter and Rickards seemed to be fading a bit. Riverside led 37-33 to start the final period. However, Rickards wasn’t done and opened the period with a 6-0 run to take a 39-37 lead with just over six minutes left in the contest. Riverside took a timeout and evidently magic words were spoken. Riverside would go on a 7-2 run, including back-to-back threes, and led 44-40 with 3:30 left to play. As time was running out, Rickards was forced to foul to get possession. Riverside was able to hold off Rickards at the line to win by nine, 56-47.
Riverside’s Montez Dunson led the team with 16 points while Antonio Harrison contributed 12 ponts.
Rickards was paced by Tavian Enzor’s 14 points and got 12 points from Chase Hudson.
Jacksonville Providence vs. Episcopal School of Jacksonville
A pair of Duval County private school powers and rivals, it was a charged atmosphere. Providence quickly seized control of the contest, jumping out to an 18-10 lead in the first four minutes of the first quarter. Episcopal finally settled down and found a rhythm, cutting the margin to five, 22-17, at the end of the period.
Providence held the lead into the second quarter with the score being 24-20 in their favor at the midway point. In just over a minute, Providence hit a three and then a two point basket to push their advantage to 29-20, forcing a timeout. Episcopal would score a basket after the timeout and the half would end with Providence on top 29-22.
In the third quarter, Providence seemingly had an answer for every Episcopal run. Episcopal was within six points midway thru the quarter but by the end of the period, Providence’s lead was nine, 38-29.
Providence pushed their lead to double-digits early in the final quarter but Episcopal mounted a comeback. With four minutes left to play, Providence led only 43-38 and it looked to be anybody’s ball game. The Stallions of Providence then took control, outscoring Episcopal 8-1 the rest of the way, winning by the score of 51-39.
Providence was led by Jaylen Robinson with 15 points while Raheem Taplin added 10 points.
Episcopal was led by Parker Chappell with 12 points.
Jacksonville North Florida Educational Institute vs. Auburndale
We doubt if any team in the state travelled as much as Auburndale this past weekend. They were in Orlando on Friday and Jacksonville on Saturday.
The game got off to a unique start as NFEI, as the home team, was assessed a technical foul for not having the scorebook ready to start the game. That didn’t seem to affect them as NFEI got out to a 13-3 lead with two minutes left to play in the quarter. Auburndale was able to turn it around a bit but still trailed 15-7 after the first eight minutes.
However, Auburndale was attacking and drawing fouls, quickly getting into the bonus. Also, NFEI Head Coach Stacey Poole was not happy with the effort of his starters and sat them for much of the second quarter. This allowed the Bloodhounds of Auburndale to gain the upper hand very quickly. They outscored NFEI 23-5 in the second period to lead by ten, 30-20.
With the starters for NFEI back on the floor to start the third quarter, the momentum began to shift. At the four minute mark, NFEI was within seven, 32-25 and by the end of the period, Auburndale’s lead was only six, 36-30. However, that was as close as NFEI would get. Foul trouble began to take its toll and Auburndale took advantage. The bloodhounds pushed the margin into double figures before winning by nine, 60-51.
Kervin Knaggs led Auburdale with 18 points while Matthew Lovett added 11 points.
For NFEI, Isaac Taplia had 17 points while Melian Martinez finished with 11 points.