First-time accomplishments highlight top coaches

It was quite the year for Class 1A in boys basketball.

Newberry was ranked No. 1 in the state by MaxPreps in January, Williston rose to as high as No. 2 before losing at Hawthorne in the regional semifinals, and the Hornets, who were also No. 1, advanced to another state semifinal.

And when the season was complete, another area team was on top.

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This past March, Bradford (Starke) won its first boys basketball state title in program history.

The Tornadoes (16-10) advanced to Lakeland for their first state semifinal since 1974, where they defeated the top-ranked Hornets, 55-35, on March 2. Two days later they completed the mission with a 64-44 win against Paxton in the state championship game.

Highlighting the top coaches in the area was Tornadoes head coach Sampson Jackson, who was named the Florida Dairy Farmers Class 1A Coach of the Year.

Jackson has also been recognized as the Mainstreet Daily News Small School Coach of the Year.

A panel of local sportswriters and coaches chose the All Area teams from Mainstreet’s eight-county coverage area. All 44 players and coaches will receive commemorative plaques to recognize their accomplishments.

“It’s an honor to win this award,” Jackson said. “I would like to thank MainStreet Daily News for noticing the hard work that myself and the staff put in. I want to thank all those who made this possible.”

Bradford won its final eight games and finished the season No. 1 in Class 1A.

“I am just the recipient,” he said. “This award goes out to those who supported us along the way. Thank you and Go Tornadoes.”

In girls basketball, the Fort White Indians won a record number of games (17 victories), had the most consecutive wins (11 straight), and won its first district championship in school history.

Fort White girls basketball coach DeShay Harris

DeShay Harris of Fort White was named the Mainstreet Daily News Small School Coach of the Year for his efforts.

“It is such an honor to receive this selection,” he said. “We had a truly historic year for our program. Our success this year is attributed to the hard work of our players and staff. They put in the work all year long. This award is because of all the people involved in our program.”

The Indians (17-3) won the Class 1A-District 6 title with a 43-40 victory against Bradford in the district championship game. Both regular season losses were by single digits, and they advanced to the regional semifinals as a No. 2 seed, where they lost to No. 3 seed Lafayette (Mayo), 55-43.

David Gordon of Gainesville High was named the Big School Coach of the Year for girls basketball following the school’s eighth district title since 2011.

“This season brought about a great challenge and enlightenment in coaching this group of girls,” Gordon said. “After coaching the Lady ‘Canes to seven straight district championships (2011 – 2017), this year is probably at the top of them all.”

GHS (14-8) defeated Columbia (Lake City), 70-62, to win the Class 6A-District 3 title, before the No. 4 seed Hurricanes lost to eventual region finalist St. Augustine in the first round of the FHSAA state playoffs.

“As a team we endured a lot of ups and downs this season, but with the great coaching staff provided the guidance and leadership to the team to keep fighting,” Gordon said. “It is an honor to be selected as the Coach of the Year. This couldn’t have happened without the players, coaching staff, and the entire school.”

Last year, the Santa Fe (Alachua) boys basketball team advanced all the way to the Class 4A state title game, falling just one game shy of the school’s first-ever state title.

Head coach Elliott Harris stepped down at the end of the season, but first-year coach Glen Banks had the Raiders in the mix again.

Santa Fe boys basketball coach Glen Banks

In his first season as Raiders’ head coach, Banks won a district title and Santa Fe advanced to the regional semifinals. He has been named the Big School Coach of the Year.

“It was important to get the kids to buy in,” Banks said. “That was the key to a successful season. I think we have laid a foundation that we can build on for next season. I thank God for his grace and his mercy. I thank Mainstreet Daily News for this honor. Raider Pride!!!”

Santa Fe (16-8), which defeated Gadsden County in the first round of the 4A state playoffs, lost to eventual state runner-up Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) in the second round.

GIRLS COACH OF THE YEAR (Small School 1A/2A) – DeShay Harris (Fort White)

Honorable Mention: Cornelius Ingram (Hawthorne), Bryant Frye (Trenton)

BOYS COACH OF THE YEAR (Small School 1A/2A) – Sampson Jackson (Bradford)

Honorable Mention: Greg Bowie (Hawthorne), Cedric Booth (Trenton)

GIRLS COACH OF THE YEAR (Big School 3A-7A) – David Gordon (Gainesville)

Honorable Mention: Willie Powers (P.K. Yonge)

BOYS COACH OF THE YEAR (Big School 3A-7A) Glen Banks (Santa Fe)

Honorable Mention: Mike Barnes (Gainesville), Boderick Johnson (P.K. Yonge)

 

This is the fifth in a five-part series on the 2022 Mainstreet Daily News All Area Basketball Team, sponsored by Smith Law Firm (girls teams) and Smith Asset Management Company (boys teams). Click here read about the small school girls,  big school girlssmall school boys teams and big school boys teams. 

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