Ridaught: Winter sports heating up

The P.K. Yonge girls soccer team claimed its fourth straight district championship with a 6-1 win over Keystone Heights on Thursday.
The P.K. Yonge girls soccer team claimed its fourth straight district championship with a 6-1 win over Keystone Heights on Thursday.
Photo by Mike Ridaught

Whew! What a week for prep sports in the area.

National Signing Day was on Wednesday, along with girls and boys soccer district tournament games, and district tournament play for girls basketball.

Plus, this is the last week of the regular season for boys basketball, with district tournament play beginning next week for the guys.

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

Yes, the winter sports are indeed heating up.

Last week, we recognized the Bosshardt Realty All Area football teams, and a few of those guys who made the first team inked their letter of intent to play at the next level on Wednesday, including four more Buchholz signees.

Among some of the other signees was Chiefland’s Clint Thomas, who signed with CSU-Pueblo, a prominent D-2 program and 2014 national champions,

Thomas made the Bosshardt Realty All Area small school team on offense.

Chiefland football player Clint Thomas signed with Colorado State University Pueblo.
Photo courtesy of James Corbin Chiefland football player Clint Thomas signed with Colorado State University Pueblo on Wednesday.

“I have no doubt in my mind that Thomas could have eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark without a rainy game and two games getting canceled altogether,” said Chiefland football coach James Corbin. “Thomas has been a leader on this team and in his community.”

On the field, Thomas led the Indians with 38 catches for 687 yards and 7 touchdowns.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time,” Thomas said. “It’s always been my dream to go on and play college ball after high school like my brothers did. I’m thankful for being from Chiefland and the opportunities I got through them.”

“I decided on signing with CSU-Pueblo because of the love they showed for me early on, their staff and facilities. I have one brother (Josh) who played and graduated from CSUP and another brother who is currently playing for them and going to apply for his master’s next (Julius). I’m excited to be a part of that legacy.”

A total of three Alachua County girls soccer teams won district titles this week.

On Monday, Santa Fe (Alachua) defeated Suwannee (Live Oak), 2-1, to win the 4A-District 2 title, and on Tuesday, No. 2 seed Buchholz upset No. 1 seed Forest (Ocala), 3-2, to win the 6A-District 4 title.

“The key to beating Forest was just to keep grinding,” said Buchholz coach Bryan Hantak. “We knew that it would be a tough game and we talked, in the lead up, about just staying focused, composed and just continuing to play our style.”

“They played us well, but my girls wanted it badly and fought through all of that and when they saw the chance to put the final goal in, Emilly Sipple buried it in the back corner. It was a beautiful play and would not have happened if each player hadn’t done their job.”

Based on their FHSAA ranking, Buchholz (9-9) wouldn’t have advanced to the state playoffs without a win. But they got hot at the right time winning six of their last seven games to advance to next week’s state tournament.

Countryside Christian's Samantha Keith eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for the .
Photo by C.J. Gish Countryside Christian’s Samantha Keith eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for the .

“There was a span of about eight weeks where it seemed like a player was either getting hurt, or getting Covid or the flu every day,” Hantak said. “We have finally started to get some players back, but have still only had the entire roster twice this season.

“The girls love playing for each other and it is truly like a family. They have really come together to push for the common team goal. To put it simply, they will go to battle for each other any day of the week. That is an amazing thing to have two years in a row. We are lucky to have that.”

At P.K. Yonge last night, after a scoreless first half, the Lady Blue Wave (12-4-1) got four goals from sophomore Faith Hardy in a 6-1 win against visiting Keystone Heights to win the 3A-District 4 title.

They will host a first-round playoff in Class 3A on Tuesday night, while the Indians (19-5) could secure an at-large bid.

In boys soccer, a total of four area teams won a district title. 

Bell edged Oak Hall, 2-1, to capture the 2A-District 2 title, Williston defeated Trinity Catholic (Ocala), 2-1, to win the 3A-District 4 title, No. 2 seed Eastside knocked off top seed Suwannee (Live Oak), 2-0, in the 4A-2 championship game, and Gainesville (14-0-1) stayed unbeaten with a 2-1 win against previously unbeaten Forest (Ocala) in 6A-District 4.

The FHSAA regional playoffs begin on Tuesday (girls) and Wednesday (boys).

Hawthorne's Jaz’lyn Jackson recently surpassed the 1,000-point mark for the Hornets.
Photo by C.J. Gish Hawthorne’s Jaz’lyn Jackson recently surpassed the 1,000-point mark for the Hornets.

In girls hoops, the area had three 1,000-point scorers this week in senior Jaz’lyn Jackson of Hawthorne, and sophomores Jayden Terry of GHS and Samantha Keith of Countryside Christian School.

“Sam is so humble, she doesn’t talk about it she just goes out and does it,” said Countryside Christian coach Tambria Williams. “She is a natural scorer and defender who very often takes over a game. Sam is still young, but she is a great kid that is driven to succeed and wants to get the W every night. It’s an honor to coach her.”

While Countryside’s season ended on Wednesday in the 2A-District 4 Semifinals, Jackson and the No. 2 seed Hornets (10-5) will play at top seed Newberry (21-4) tonight in the 1A-District 6 championship game. 

In the MaxPreps rankings, Hawthorne is fifth in the state in Class 1A while the Panthers, who were guests on “The Prep Zone” sports show last week, are ranked seventh. 

Newberry, which won 20 games for the first time since 2012, is seeking its first district title since 2017.

Other girls basketball teams who are hosting district title games tonight include this past Wednesday night’s radio guests, P.K. Yonge (3A-District 2), which has been playing with just eight players this season, and Gainesville High, the top seed in 6A-District 2, which will host No. 2 seed Chiles (Tallahassee).

Terry scored her 1,000th point in Gainesville’s 67-50 win against Lincoln (Tallahassee) in the district semifinals.

Gainesville's Jayden Terry shoots for two in the second half against Chiles on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Gainesville’s Jayden Terry scored her 1000th point in the district semifinal round.

“I first started thinking about it when I counted it up and I saw I only had four points left so I knew I was going to get it in the next game and I was just really pumped up and I got it in the first quarter so that was really exciting,” she said.

Trenton lost to Class 1A No. 1 Wildwood, which is ranked fifth in the latest regional rankings, 58-36, in the 1A-District 7 title game last night in Trenton.

The Tigers (17-11) should still make the playoffs as an at-large team in 1A-Region 4, while No. 2 seed Oak Hall (2A-4), win or lose tonight in its title game against top seed Meadowbrook Academy (Ocala), is expected to do the same. 

Oak Hall girls basketball coach Eric Ringdahl has led the Eagles, who are 15-7 this season, since 1990.

This past Tuesday was our ninth boys basketball broadcast during the month of January. 

Santa Fe (Alachua) routed Eastside, 67-38, in a 4A-District 5 game for its 17th straight victory.

Guard Don’trell Jenkins, who is likely the best guard in North Central Florida, was named the Sonic Drive-In Player of the Game after scoring 20 points. He knocked down three 3s in the opening quarter for the Raiders (19-5), who will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s district tournament.

In our final regular season broadcast of boys hoops last night, Gainesville defeated rival Eastside, 53-37, at the Purple Palace on Senior Night. 

Eastside would have to win next week’s district tournament to make the state playoffs, but GHS (6-0 this season against city rivals) is currently the No. 2 seed in 6A-Region 1 behind Ponte Vedra and could have a special year.

The Hurricanes (19-6), who will host either Chiles (Tallahassee) or Leon (Tallahassee) in the 6A-District 2 semifinals on Wednesday, would lock up a home court playoff game by winning the district title.

The ‘Canes could face Buchholz in the title game. The Bobcats (12-13) are trying to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Santa Fe, GHS, Williston and Newberry are a few area boys basketball teams to keep your eyes on during the month of February.

But that’s the great thing about this time of year, there’s always a Cinderella. 

As I’ve always called it, “March Madness in February.”

There’s a lot to love about this second month of the year.


GIRLS (District championship games and seedings)

Friday, Feb. 2 (All games at 7 p.m. unless noted)

1A-District 6

No. 2 Hawthorne at No. 1 Newberry, 7 p.m.

2A-District 4 at St. Francis Catholic

No. 1 Meadowbrook Academy (Ocala) vs. No. 2 Oak Hall, 6 p.m.

3A-District 2

No. 2 Trinity Catholic (Ocala) at No. 1 P.K. Yonge, 6 p.m.

6A-District 2

No. 2 Chiles (Tallahassee) at No. 1 Gainesville, 7 p.m.


Friday, Feb. 3

Cornerstone Academy at First Coast Christian (Jacksonville), 5:30 p.m.
The Rock at Winter Haven, 7 p.m.
Baker County (Glen St. Mary) at Columbia (Lake City), 7:30 p.m.
Bradford (Starke) at P.K. Yonge, 7:30 p.m.
Keystone Heights at Palatka, 7:30 p.m.
Madison County at Bradford (Starke), 7:30 p.m.
Trenton at Hamilton County (Jasper), 7:30 p.m.
Williston at Fort White, 7:30 p.m.
Branford at Union County (Lake Butler), 8 p.m.


Enjoying our local sports coverage? Get Mike Ridaught's twice weekly sports newsletter in your inbox.
Sports Newsletter Form
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments