As is our tradition, we headed up to Jacksonville Jackson to take in the final night of their Tip-Off Classic. Always a well-run event by Ron Etheridge, we got to see most of the top teams from the First Coast as well as several of the top individual performers in North Florida.
Game One: Callahan West Nassau vs. Flagler Palm Coast
West Nassau jumped out to an early 14-4 lead but Palm Coast was undeterred and got back to within four after one quarter of play. West Nassau kept its lead until Palm Coast went on a run and took its first lead at 28-27 with 2:30 left in the half. Palm Coast took a three point lead into the break.
West Nassau tied the score at 38-38 by the five minute mark of the third, but Palm Coast never gave up the lead. Heading into the final period, the score was 50-49. With just under six minutes to play and the score tied at 54-54, senior Dallan “Deebo” Coleman, a Georgia Tech signee, took over. He broke down the defense with his dribble and either scored or found teammates for baskets. West Nassau also picked up the defensive intensity. The combination of “Deebo and Defense” resulted in a 14-2 run for West Nassau to finish out the game and head home with a 68-56 win.
Coleman and Jye Thompson each finished with 23 points for West Nassau.
Game Two: Jacksonville Bishop Snyder vs. Gainesville HS
Bishop Snyder jumped out quickly and never looked back in this one. At the four minute mark, Snyder’s full court pressure had produced several turnovers and had them out to a 10-2 lead. The lead was twenty, 28-8, after the first period. Gainesville outscored Bishop Snyder in the second quarter but still found themselves down sixteen, 38-22 at the break.
It looked like the Purple Hurricanes of Gainesville would get back into it, trailing by thirteen, 40-27, midway thru the third. Bishop Snyder quickly put an end to that notion, finishing the third with an 11-4 run to push their margin to twenty, 51-31. Snyder would increase their lead throughout the fourth quarter and win comfortably by the score of 70-43.
Moise Balunga led Snyder with 16 point while Trent Walker scored 15, Manuk Luol tossed in 14 and Jalen Gilmore finished with 12 points.
Daryus Boyd finished with 15 points for Gainesville.
Game Three: Jacksonville Providence vs. Jacksonville Jackson
Normally, district rivals wouldn’t meet in a pre-season contest, but neither team shies away from a challenge. Providence knew it couldn’t matchup with the size and speed of Jackson, so Providence controlled the tempo and made the most of its opportunities. This led to a low-scoring affair in the first half. In a bit of a surprise, Providence maintained a lead throughout. At the break, Providence led by two, 17-15.
Providence led by four, 21-17, at the midway point of the third quarter. Jackson then ripped off six straight point to take a two point lead. Providence knocked down a three pointer on its next possession to retake the lead. Heading into the final period, Providence led by two, 26-24.
In the final quarter, Jackson was able to extend its defense and force some turnovers and bad shots. The Tigers took advantage of the situation, outscoring Providence 8-2 over the first four minutes of the fourth to lead 32-28. Now it was Providence’s turn to chase. They almost made it, but Jackson was able to hold them off at the foul line and win a nail-biter, 39-36.
Jackson was led by Marques Ray with 12 points while Stephon Payne tallied 6 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals.
James Repass and Jack Dillard each scored 10 points for Providence.
Bishop Snyder, Providence, and Jackson are all in the competitive Class 3A District 2. No doubt their games against each other will be highly entertaining and must-see basketball along the First Coast.