The MLK Shoot-Out at Hawthorne High School is back.
After a successful first event last year, Hawthorne coach Greg Bowie said it was an easy decision to bring back the showcase in 2021.
“We had put the idea of a holiday showcase at Hawthorne for the past several years as a staff, and after discussing it amongst ourselves we felt an opportunity to host a showcase event at Hawthorne High School would do very well,” he said. “Also, Hawthorne is known for their home gym and the environment it provides during games, so being able to have an opportunity to show other schools/families/counties our gym and the ‘atmosphere’ in which it is known for was something we thought we could accomplish with our annual showcase during MLK.”
A total of six games will take place today, split evenly between boys and girls.
The girls will start the action at 11 a.m., featuring Williston and North Marion. Host Hawthorne against unbeaten Oakleaf (Orange Park) will cap the girls’ games at 2 p.m.
The P.K. Yonge boys play Columbia (Lake City) at 3:30 p.m., followed by the Eastside boys and The Villages at 5 p.m. Host Hawthorne and Trenton will face off at 6:30 p.m. to close out the showcase.
“We always try to schedule teams based on either school size or competitiveness, as we want to provide a showcase that has some well-known state title contenders,” Bowie said. “For example, last year’s showcase featured a slew of teams that made deep postseason runs, and that was our thought process for this year as well.
Seven teams in action won their district titles last season.
“I think this year there are quite a bit of exciting matchups that feature great ball players and coaches; therefore I think this year’s showcase will have some exciting, competitive, and hard fought games throughout the day,” Bowie said.
Last year, Hawthorne won both the girls and boys Class 1A state titles. Bowie likes the way both teams are currently playing.
“With all of the coaches also coaching football, practice and developing time prior to the season was very minimal and was something we had to balance with football and basketball overlapping late in the football year,” he said. “Now that football has ended and we are able to devote all of our time to coaching basketball, I believe our teams are starting to gel together and work towards the conditioning levels that we demand from both of our basketball programs.”
Both the Hornets and Lady Hornets have suffered some losses at this point in the season, but Bowie said they have been learning experiences that he hopes will lead to another deep postseason run.
“While we are nowhere near peak form, we have definitely been trending in the right direction the past few weeks as we have fully transitioned to basketball, both as coaches and players, and the school in general,” he said.
MLK Shoot-Out at Hawthorne High School
Monday, January 18
11 a.m. – Williston (6-1) vs. North Marion (10-3)
Second meeting between the two teams. North Marion won 40-35 on Nov. 17.
12:30 p.m. – Buchholz (10-1) vs Eustis (7-4)
Both teams ranked in the top 100 on MaxPreps.
2 p.m. – Hawthorne (11-3) vs Oakleaf (Orange Park) (15-0)
The defending 1A state champion Hornets, ranked 82nd in state vs. hottest team in the Jacksonville area. Oakleaf is ranked fifth in Class 7A and 23rd in the state by MaxPreps. Hawthorne won last year’s game 45-40.
3:30 p.m. – P.K. Yonge (9-7) vs. Columbia (Lake City) (8-4)
Columbia, which is coming off its first final four appearance in over 50 years, will battle a solid P.K. Yonge team.
5 p.m. – Eastside (14-1) vs. The Villages (8-5)
Rematch of last year’s regional semifinal, which Eastside won 77-66. Eastside is currently ranked 23rd in the state overall and second in Class 4A by MaxPreps.
6:30 p.m. – Hawthorne (7-4) vs. Trenton (8-11)
Defending 1A state champion vs. a very competitive Trenton team that made the 1A playoffs last season.