The quest for a girls basketball state title begins tonight around the state with the start of the Florida High School Athletic Association regional tournaments.
A total of eight area teams will be in action, including four teams (Hawthorne, Oak Hall, P.K. Yonge and GHS) who won a district title.
It also marks the farewell for longtime Oak Hall School coach Eric Ringdahl who recently told his players and their parents that this would be his last season on the sidelines.
Last week, Oak Hall (16-7) won the 2A-District 4 title with a 36-33 win against Meadowbrook Academy (Ocala), which is the No. 5 seed and will travel to No. 4 seed Munroe (Quincy).
“Winning the district championship is always a thrill,” Ringdahl said. “This one is big and very special. It has been a great honor and privilege to coach basketball at Oak Hall for these past 30 years. It has been quite a ride. I have been blessed to coach great young ladies.”
Despite being the No. 7 seed in Class 2A-Region 1, the Lady Eagles will actually host No. 2 seed North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) in tonight’s regional quarterfinals. That’s because the FHSAA is not allowing NFEI to host any more athletic events this year after the school had an altercation at their gym during a boys game.
The visiting Eagles (14-8) won the Class 2A-District 2 championship last week with an 80-14 win against Covenant School of Jacksonville.
“We must stop the ball, be patient and intentional on offense, box out and rebound,” Ringdahl said. “We also must limit their second chance opportunities and we have to attack the basket to score.”
Senior Kate Pickens (13.5 points per game) and junior Bella Dyrkolbotn (11.3 ppg and 8.6 rebounds) lead the Eagles, who have won six of their last seven games.
Gainesville (14-7) will host Niceville (18-6) in Class 6A-Region 1.
The Lady Hurricanes defeated Chiles (Tallahassee), 52-37, to win the 6A-District 2 title last Friday.
Jayden Terry, who scored her 1,000th point last week in the district semifinals, led the Hurricanes with 19 points in the title game.
GHS is currently ranked 15th in the all-classification regional rankings.
The game will be broadcast online (audio only) at MainStreetDailyNews.com.
Just ahead of the Hurricanes in the rankings at No. 12 is P.K. Yonge. The Lady Blue Wave, who defeated Trinity Catholic (Ocala) last Friday to win the district title, will host Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) in a Class 3A-Region 1 Final.
Zion McRae, who scored a career-high 41 points this year against Bradford (Starke), leads the Lady Blue Wave in scoring (21.3 ppg), along with freshman Ashlyn Young (14.2 points and 10.4 rebounds).
McRae scored 27 points in the 51-47 win in the district championship game.
The Blue Wave have been winning with just eight players this season.
“Basically, we have to pressure the ball without fouling and get up and down the court,” said P.K. Yonge coach Willie Powers. “In the championship game we didn’t hit many shots so we’ve got to start getting the ball to the basket and making them or at least get to the free throw line.”
Bradford (Starke), which lost to Trinity Catholic in the district semifinals, received an at-large bid. The Tornadoes (10-11) are the No. 8 seed in Region 1 and will travel to No. 1 seed Providence (Jacksonville).
In the Class 1A Regional Semifinals, Hawthorne is the top seed in Region 3 and will host No. 4 seed Madison County.
The Lady Hornets (11-5), who are ranked No. 4 in Class 1A by MaxPreps, are led by senior Jaz’lyn Jackson and sophomore De’Mya Adams, who are both averaging 17 points per game. Jackson is also averaging 10.6 rebounds per game, while Adams averages 4.3 assists and 4.6 steals per game.
Newberry will host Hilliard in the other regional semifinal.
The No. 2 seed Panthers (21-5), who won 20 games this season for the first time since 2012, are seeking their first district title since 2017.
Hilliard (19-8) lost to Madison County in the 1A-District 5 championship game last Friday, 46-35, while Newberry lost to Hawthorne, 64-48, in the 1A-6 title game.
And in Class 1A-Region 4, No. 2 seed Trenton will host No. 3 Williston.
This will be the rubber match between the host Tigers (17-11) and the Red Devils (9-10). Trenton lost at Williston, 50-40, on Dec. 13, but they won the second meeting at home, 44-29, on Jan. 12.
Thursday, Feb. 9
Regional Quarterfinals – All games at 7 p.m.
Class 6A-Region 1
No. 6 Niceville at No. 3 Gainesville
Class 3A-Region 1
No. 8 Bradford (Starke) at No. 1 Providence (Jacksonville)
No. 7 Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) at No. 2 P.K. Yonge
Class 2A-Region 1
No. 2 North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) at No. 7 Oak Hall School
Class 1A-Region 3
No. 4 Madison County at No. 1 Hawthorne
No. 3 Hilliard at No. 2 Newberry
Class 1A-Region 4
No. 3 Williston at No. 2 Trenton