Ridaught: Florida Miss Basketball announced

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This year marks the 10-year anniversary that an area girls basketball player was named the best girls basketball player in the state. 

In 2013, Buchholz's Jessica Thomas was named the Florida Dairy Farmers Miss Basketball after leading the Bobcats to their first state title in program history.

Thomas averaged 30 points, seven assists and four steals per game during her senior season, including 26 points in the Class 7A state final and 38 in the state semifinals.

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Since then, it's been tough to crack the top five of the best female basketball players in the Sunshine State.

In 2019, Santa Fe College signee Taniah Bowers of Trenton was named the Class 1A Player of the Year after leading the Tigers to a 27-3 record and the Class 1A state title, averaging 14.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 6.8 steals per game. 

But she finished seventh in the voting. 

Trinity Catholic's (Ocala) Sydney James, the Class 5A Player of the Year that year who averaged 27.2 points 12.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game, finished sixth. 

Buchholz quarterback Creed Whittemore and the Bobcats will host Pace at Newberry High School on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz quarterback Creed Whittemore was named the Florida Dairy Farmer's Mr. Football following his 2022 performance.

It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that a Class 1A player could win the prestigious award.

The year before, in 2018, Wildwood's Kari Niblack was named runner-up for Miss Basketball. The No. 78 overall player in the 2018 HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings guided the Wildcats to the Class 1A state title in 2017 and 2018. 

During her senior season, she shot 55 percent from the floor and averaged 18.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game. She signed with West Virginia University before transferring to the University of Georgia this past season.

Destanni Henderson of Fort Myers High, the 7A Player of the Year, won the award that year. She was a McDonald's All-American and University of South Carolina signee who led the Green Wave to their third straight Class 7A state championship.

Obviously, you have to be pretty special, which is why Alachua County finally won its first postseason award this past December when Buchholz quarterback Creed Whittemore was named Mr. Football.

Plus, the area has had two Mr. Basketball winners (Buchholz's Vernon Maxwell and Gainesville's Orien Greene), and just this past fall, Santa Fe’s (Alachua) Jalyn Stout repeated as Miss Volleyball after leading the Raiders to their second straight Class 4A state title.

And speaking of Class 1A winners, Trenton’s Darian Ingram did win Miss Softball in 2021, but it’s been 20 years since the county has won one (2003 – Stacey Stevens, Buchholz).

Santa Fe's Jalyn Stout and Eric Marshall on sideline
Photo by C.J. Gish Santa Fe's Jalyn Stout (left) won back-to-back Florida Dairy Farmer Miss Volleyball awards in 2021 and 2022.

While there were no classification winners this year, Hawthorne's De'Mya Adams finished third in the voting for Class 1A Player of the Year. Only a sophomore, she scored a career-high 41 points against Newberry in the region final to lead the Hornets to the final four.

She added 20 points, five assists and six rebounds in the state semifinals, and 18 points and six steals in the Class 1A state championship game. 

Could she be on pace to put Alachua County back on the map by the time she is a senior? If she is fortunate to play on the big stage again for the next two years, it's certainly possible that she might be in the mix if she continues to improve.

But as I noted, you've got to be a special player.

Earlier today the Florida Dairy Farmers announced that Taliah Scott from St. Johns Country Day School (Orange Park) has been named the 2023 Florida Dairy Farmers Miss Basketball, which is in its 31st year.

The senior guard, who has signed to play college basketball at the University of Arkansas, averaged 36.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 2.9 steals per game. She was named to the McDonald’s All-American team and will be playing in the McDonald’s All-American game on Tuesday night in Houston.

Scott, who was earlier named the Class 2A player-of-the-year for the second straight year, received 13 of the 21 first-place votes and 175 points to finish ahead of Class 7A POY Trinity Turner of Dr. Phillips, who had three first-place votes (106 points).

Class 4A POY Emma Risch of Palm Bay finished third with three first-place votes (91 points). Class 5A POY Anovia Sheals of Mainland finished fourth (44), followed by Class 3A POY Janessa Williams of King’s Academy (23), Class 6A POY Kayla Turner of Oakleaf (17) and Class 1A POY Trinidy Harris of Wildwood (8).

Past Miss Basketball Winners:
1993 – Sabrina Crump, Clearwater Countryside
1994 – Tracy Reid, Miami Central
1995 – LaTonya Washington, Paxton
1996 – LaTonya Washington, Paxton
1997 – LaToya Jordan, Pompano Beach Ely
1998 – Michelle Snow, Pensacola
1999 – Shinikki Whiting, Clearwater
2000 – Binky Martello, Jay
2001 – Natasha Morehead, Panama City Bay
2002 – Dorian Williams, Jacksonville Ribault
2003 – Erlana Larkins, The Benjamin School
2004 – Erlana Larkins, The Benjamin School
2005 – LaQwesha Gamble, Winter Haven
2006 – Steffi Sorensen, Jacksonville Bartram Trail
2007 – Krystal Thomas, Orlando First Academy
2008 – Tiffany Hayes, Winter Haven
2009 – Ashley Jones, Winter Park Lake Howell
2010 – Krystal Saunders, South Broward
2011 – Danielle McCray, Trinity Christian Academy
2012 – Alexis Prince, Orlando Edgewater
2013 – Jessica Thomas, Gainesville Buchholz

2014 – Vionise Pierre-Louis, Grandview Preparatory
2015 – Beatrice Mompremier, Miami Senior
2016 – Nadia Fingall, Choctawhatchee
2017—Rennia Davis, Jacksonville Ribault
2018 – Destanni Henderson, Ft. Myers
2019 – Camille Hobby, Nease
2020 – Mikyla Tolivert, Palm Bay
2021 – O’Mariah Gordon, Braden River
2022 – Ta’Niya Latson, Plantation American Heritage

Meanwhile, Anthony Jones of Dr. Phillips High School (Orlando) has been named the 2023 Florida Dairy Farmers Girls’ Basketball Coach of the Year following a final round of voting by a statewide panel of high school coaches and media representatives.

Jones led his squad to a 30-1 record and its second straight Class 7A state title. In 14 years at Dr. Phillips, Jones has a career record of 283-130 with five state championships (2011-13 and 2022-23).

Jones, who was earlier named the Class 7A Coach-of-the-Year, received 11 of the 21 first-place votes and 164 points to finish ahead of Class 5A COY Brandon Stewart of Mainland, who had seven first-place votes and 120 points. Class 4A COY Al Honor of Lake Highland Prep finished third with 76 points, followed by Class 1A COY Cornelius Ingram of Hawthorne (52), Class 2A COY Andy Sarasty of Faith Christian (38), Class 3A COY Ochiel Swaby of Miami Country Day (12) and Class 6A COY Oliver Berens of St. Thomas Aquinas (10).

Past Girls’ Basketball Coaching Winners:
1993 – Ronnie Bond, Pensacola Washington
1994 – Al Austin, Jacksonville Ribault
1995 – Reginald Davis, Tallahassee Godby
1996 – Harry Elifson, St. Petersburg Boca Ciega
1997 – Al Austin, Jacksonville Ribault
1998 – Dave Horner, Ocala Forest
1999 – Al Austin, Jacksonville Ribault
2000 – Ronnie Bond, Pensacola Washington
2001 – Ronnie Bond, Pensacola Washington
2002 – Al Austin, Jacksonville Ribault
2003 – Abby Ward, South Broward
2004 – Ronnalee Terry, The Benjamin School
2005 – Carl Brown, Lake Mary
2006 – Greg Hostetler, Titusville Astronaut
2007 – LeDawn Gibson, Winter Haven
2008 – Mike Hamburger, Naples Barron Collier
2009 – Carla Harris-Curry, Miami Norland
2010 – Marcia Pinder, Fort Lauderdale Dillard
2011 – Marcia Pinder, Fort Lauderdale Dillard
2012 – Marcia Pinder, Fort Lauderdale Dillard
2013 – Marcia Pinder, Fort Lauderdale Dillard
2014 – John Harder, Bradenton Southeast
2015 – Marcia Pinder, Fort Lauderdale Dillard
2016 – Sheila Seymore-Pennick, Jacksonville Ribault
2017 – Ochiel Swaby, Miami Country Day
2018 – Johnnie Lawson, Winter Haven
2019 – Ochiel Swaby, Miami Country Day
2020 – Henry McNabb, Pompano Beach Blanche Ely
2021 – Carrie Mahon, Tampa Plant
2022 – Al Honor, Lake Highland Prep

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