The Hawthorne boys basketball team is back on top heading into the postseason.
The Hornets are the new No. 1 in Class 1A according to MaxPreps and they are also the top seed in tonight’s Class 1A-Region 4 semifinals.
Hawthorne (9-4), which is ranked 20th in the all-classification regional rankings, will host Williston (16-10), which is ranked ninth in the state. The game will be broadcast on 106.9 FM “I am Country” with audio online at IamCountryRadio.com beginning at 6:30 p.m.
“They’re one of our former district opponents,” said Hawthorne coach Greg Bowie. “They’ve got a really good point guard (JT Tipton), an 8th-grader who can shoot it from anywhere on the court. They’re one of the more disciplined Williston teams I’ve seen in a while. They’ve always had the athletic ability, but now with the discipline part of it, they pass it well, shoot it well, that’s a great ball club.”
Hawthorne had to rally to beat Wildwood on the road, 60-58, in the 1A-District 8 championship game.
“We had a guy come off the bench and spark us,” explained Bowie. “We came out flat against them and they jumped out to an 18-point lead.”
Clayton Glosson, who hadn’t played much all year, only scored three points, but he also grabbed three rebounds in limited action in the third quarter.
“He sparked the team and then everyone else got it going,” Bowie said.
The Hornets trailed 31-22 at the half but scored 24 points in the third quarter to take a 45-42 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Freshman C.J. Ingram led the Hornets with 21 points and 10 rebounds, followed by junior DJ Slater with 12 points and junior Jailen Ruth with nine points and five rebounds. Slater also added two assists and four steals as the Hornets won their fourth straight.
The Red Devils blew a 19-point lead and lost to Trenton, 50-44, in the 1A-District 7 semifinals, but advanced as an at-large team. Tipton leads the team with an average of 14.8 points per game, followed by sophomore Kyler Lamb (12.3 ppg).
“We’ve got to contain No. 10 (Tipton) and No. 12 (Lamb),” Bowie said regarding the keys to a Hornets’ victory. “They can shoot it from anywhere on the court. We need to try and limit them to one shot because they’re really active on the glass, so we’ve got to put a body on them.”
Hawthorne is 16-4 vs. Williston since 2005. However, the Red Devils snapped the Hornets’ 13-game winning streak in the series, 84-81, last January.
The winner will play in Tuesday’s region final against the winner of the Trenton-Newberry game, which will be video streamed online.
Newberry has also spent some time at No. 1.
However, the Panthers lost at home to Trenton, 65-57 in overtime, in the Class 1A-District 7 title game and dropped to second after losing a 15-point lead against the Tigers.
After winning its first district title in 21 years in 2021, the Tigers (17-10), who are ranked seventh in the state in Class 1A, have won two in a row.
“It means a lot,” third-year Trenton coach Cedric Booth said about repeating. “It means a lot to the team because most of those guys were on this team last year, so to do it back-to-back with these kids who pretty much never had a winning season before I got here, is big for the team, and the community as well.”
Never count Trenton out of a game. They rallied down 19 at Williston in the semifinals and down 15 against Newberry in the championship game.
“Offensively we’ve been getting off to slow starts pretty much the whole year, but it wasn’t the slow starts on offense that got us in the district semifinals and the championship game, we got off to a bad start defensively. We were scoring the ball, we just got off to a slow start defensively and you just can’t have that against really good, athletic teams. It’s hard to come back on teams like that.”
This will be the fourth meeting this season against Newberry (19-6), which beat the Tigers on the road, 43-40, on Dec. 10, and at home, 67-61, on Jan. 13.
“We can’t afford to go down big again,” Booth noted. “You just don’t want to keep playing with fire. Now all the cards are on the table. They know what we’re good at doing, we know what they’re good at doing, and it’s just about who’s going to make the most shots and who’s going to be locked in from the beginning to the end.”
A total of nine area teams are in action tonight, including Santa Fe (Alachua) in Class 4A, P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) in Class 3A, Bell at Bradford (Starke) in a rematch Class 1A, and Dixie County (Cross City), which plays at Madison County in Class 1A.
All games at 7 p.m.
Class 4A-Region 1
No. 5 Gadsden County (Havana) at Santa Fe (Alachua)
Class 3A-Region 1
No. 6 P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) at No. 3 Windermere Prep
Class 1A-Region 3
No. 4 Bell at No. 1 Bradford (Starke)
Class 1A-Region 3
No. 3 Dixie County (Cross City) at No. 2 Madison County
Class 1A-Region 4
No. 4 Williston at No. 1 Hawthorne – Radio broadcast on 106.9 FM “I am Country” and audio online at IamCountryRadio.com beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Class 1A-Region 4
No. 3 Newberry at No. 2 Trenton– Video stream online at MainStreetDailyNews.com starting at 6:55 p.m.