Four schools place a pair on big school All Area boys team

Buchholz's Palmer Walton (left) and Gainesville's Anthony Leivonen were selected to the 2024 All Area big school boys basketball team.
Buchholz's Palmer Walton (left) and Gainesville's Anthony Leivonen were selected to the 2024 Bosshardt Realty All Area big school boys basketball team.
Graphic by Seth Johnson/Photos by C.J. Gish

This is the fourth of five stories unveiling the 2024 Bosshardt Realty All Area Basketball Teams. Click here to read about the Small School girls team, the Small School boys team and the Big School girls team.

It was a banner year for the Buchholz boys’ basketball team under first-year coach Elliot Harris.

The Bobcats (18-11) won their first FHSAA playoff game in 15 years and ended the season with their most victories since finishing 15-10 in 2014-15.

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Forward Palmer Walton was a big reason why, earning him a spot on 2023-24 Bosshardt Realty All Area first team for big schools (Classes 3A-6A).

A panel of local sportswriters and coaches chose the All Area teams from Mainstreet’s eight-county coverage area, which included nominations from area high school coaches.

All 44 players and coaches will receive commemorative plaques to recognize their accomplishments.

Walton scored a game-high 23 points in a 59-48 win against No. 5 seed Forest (Ocala) in a Class 6A-Region 1 Quarterfinal as the Bobcats won their first playoff game since 2009.

“He’s a fierce competitor and he’s the type of kid that hates losing,” Harris said. “He can fill it up. He can shoot it at a high clip, and he shot a really high percentage from 3-point range this year and was a big part of our success.”

Walton averaged a team-leading 17 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He shot 50% from the floor, including 44% from 3-point range (61-of-138).

He also led the Bobcats in steals (32), blocks (24), and free throw shooting percentage (88%).

Buchholz swept rival GHS during the regular season, including a rare win at The Purple Palace, but they lost to the Hurricanes in the 6A-District 2 championship game.

Gainesville's Cornelius White led the Hurricanes averaging 14.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Photo by C.J. Gish Gainesville’s Cornelius White led the Hurricanes averaging 14.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

Cornelius White, who hit the game-winning basket with 1.3 seconds left, made the first team after leading GHS (18-12) in scoring with 14.1 ppg.

The 6’6 forward/center shot a team-best 51% from the floor, 76% from the free throw line and he also led the ‘Canes in rebounding (7.6 per game).

“Cornelius was our top scorer and rebounder this year,” said GHS coach Mike Barnes. “He scored for us on the inside and from the outside. It seems like whenever we needed a basket we would draw a play up for him. We are looking for him to make a big jump next year as a senior in our program.”

Joining White on the first team is teammate Anthony Leivonen.

The 6-foot-4 senior was second in scoring (12.2) behind White.

Leivonen, who was third on the team with 3.7 rebounds per game, had a team-leading four assists per game and made a team-best 37 3-pointers.

“Anthony is one of the most self-motivated players that I have ever coached,” Barnes said. “He is in the gym every morning before school at 6:45 a.m. getting up shots. He was a more vocal leader for us this year and really took on the responsibility of being our main ballhandler. He led our team in 3-point shots made, assists, and was second in charges taken.”

Santa Fe (Alachua) was one of four area teams to have two players represented on the team.

Although the Raiders missed the playoffs this year after a heart-breaking 61-59 loss to North Marion (Citra) in the 4A-District 5 semifinals, senior shooting guard Braylon Guyden made the first team and sophomore guard/forward Antonio Hall was named to the second team.

Guyden averaged 14.8 points and scored a team-high 355 points.

Santa Fe's Antonio Hall (left) and Eastside's Kelvin Baker were both selected to the Bosshardt Realty All Area boys big school team.
Photo by C.J. Gish Santa Fe’s Antonio Hall (left) and Eastside’s Kelvin Baker were both selected to the Bosshardt Realty All Area boys big school team.

“Braylon is always humble and hungry,” said Santa Fe coach Glen Banks. “He is always the hardest worker in the gym.”

The 6’4 Hall was second on the team with an average of 10.3 ppg.

“Antonio has the potential to be one of our area’s next top players,” Banks said. “When he is locked in he is a game changer.”

Rounding out the first team is Kelvin Baker of Eastside.

Baker led the Rams in scoring with 14.1 ppg despite missing the last six games due to an injury. He also averaged 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.

“Kelvin is a hardworking, well-rounded young man,” said Eastside coach “Pop” Williams. “He is a great defender and dedicated. He encourages his teammates and values them. Kelvin is my go-to player that produces results when I need him.  He is well-mannered and a pleasure to coach.”

Joining GHS, P.K. Yonge and Santa Fe (Alachua) with two selections is Class 5A regional quarterfinalist Columbia (Lake City), which placed a pair of guards in juniors Marlin Haywood and Zamarion Jones on the second team.

Haywood averaged 9.9. points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game for the Tigers (15-13), who lost at Rickards (Tallahassee), 49-33, in the 5A-District 2 title game but made the playoffs as an at-large.

“Marlin really hit his stride for us in late January and into February,” said Columbia coach Steve Faulkner. “He continually got better as the season progressed and became our go-to scorer late in the year. He has worked hard to become a good player.”

Jones was second on the team in scoring (8.3 ppg) and led Columbia in assists (111) and steals (56).

P.K. Yonge's Joel Washington averaged 10 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game for the Blue Wave.
Photo by C.J. Gish P.K. Yonge’s Joel Washington averaged 10 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game for the Blue Wave.

“Z had a lot of responsibility thrown at him this year,” Faulkner said. “He was the most experienced player we had returning. He did a great job running our offense and scoring when needed. His defense was crucial to our success, leading us in steals.”

P.K. Yonge, which won the 3A-District 2 title and advanced to the playoffs, also placed two players on the second team in junior guard Jantzen Griffin and junior F/C Joel Washington.

Griffin led P.K. Yonge (13-13) with 11.4 points and 2.3 assists per game.

“Jantzen is a very heady guard that plays with great pace to his game,” said P.K. Yonge coach Boderick Johnson. “He was a primary contributor to the team for this past season.”

The 6’3 Washington was second on the team in scoring (10.0 ppg), rebounding (4.3), and assists (1.6), and he led the Blue Wave with 1.4 steals per game.

“Joel stepped into a leadership role for us this past season and performed very well,” Johnson said. “He is a hybrid player that played multiple positions throughout the season.”

2023-24 Bosshardt Realty All Area Basketball Teams

BOYS – BIG SCHOOL (3A-6A) (1st Team)

G – Anthony Leivonen, GHS (Senior)

G – Kelvin Baker, Eastside (Junior)

G – Braylon Guyden, Santa Fe (Senior)

SF – Palmer Walton, Buchholz (Senior)

F/C – Cornelius White, GHS (Junior)

BOYS – BIG SCHOOL (3A-6A) (2nd Team)

G – Zamarion Jones, Columbia (Junior)

G – Marlin Haywood, Columbia (Junior)

G – Jantzen Griffin, P.K. Yonge (Junior)

G/F – Antonio Hall, Santa Fe (Sophomore)

F/C – Joel Washington, P.K. Yonge (Junior)

Honorable mentions

Buchholz – Collin Dunsmore (Jr.)

Columbia – Zavian Douglas (Jr.)

Eastside – Quashawn Brittingham (Sr.)

Keystone Heights – Garrison Teague (Sr.), Gregory Pelham (Jr.)

P.K. Yonge – Alijah Bertrand (Sr.), Lorenzo Hill (Jr.)

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