Ridaught: One last chance to shine

Williston's Kyler Lamb (5) takes a shot at Saturday's The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase.
Williston's Kyler Lamb (East) takes a shot against Baker County's Jaeveon Reed (North) at Saturday's The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase at Legacy Park in Alachua. The East won the boys championship, while the South won the girls championship
Photo by Aiden Wacksman

This past Saturday at Legacy Park Multipurpose Center in Alachua, some of the top basketball players in North Central Florida got to compete at the highest level in “The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase” presented by 399 Sports.

A total of five All-Star games featuring a total of 37 players (16 girls and 21 boys) from 22 schools from the Class of 2024 participated in the one-day event.

The athletes came from as far south as Marion County, as far north as Baker County (Glen St. Mary), as far east as Keystone Heights, and as far west as the Tri-County area (Levy, Gilchrist and Dixie counties).

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The South girls team at The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase on Saturday.
Photo by Aiden Wacksman The South girls team at The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase on Saturday.

The action began on Saturday morning as the South girls team, which was comprised of players mostly from Marion County, defeated the North, 51-15.

Leanna Pabst of West Port (Ocala) made six 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 24 points for the South, while the North was led by Zaniah Blake of Baker County (Glen St. Mary) with seven points.

“I practice my shots a lot so it was just about being relaxed and coming out here and wanting to be one of the best on the court,” said Pabst, who scored a high of 30 points in a game against Belleview this year. “It was nice to be out here with girls I already know, girls I had never seen, so that was fun. It was competitive.”

The North squad, which included players from Eastside, Oak Hall, Trenton, and Countryside Christian, was much more competitive in the second head-to-head meeting, falling 70-47 in game two.

The girls North team at The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase on Saturday.
Photo by Aiden Wacksman The North girls team at The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase on Saturday.

“I was actually excited,” said Oak Hall’s Sri Lanka Richardson, who scored 10 points in the second game. “I’m thankful that you reached out to me to play in the All-Star game right before college, my last high school game. I appreciate the moment.”

Despite the outcome, Countryside Christian coach Tambria Williams enjoyed the opportunity to coach the North.

“It was a real pleasure,” Williams said. “Of course, it didn’t turn out the way that we would have liked but I still saw a lot of hard work out of all the girls and I just think it’s a bright future for a lot of them, whether they’re going to go on to the next level to play basketball, and I just think it was a great experience for everybody, especially me.”

Pabst led all scorers with 15 points in the second meeting, while Madelyn Watson of Countryside Christian led the North with 11 points.

“I’m proud of Maddy,” Williams said of Watson. “She’s been begging me for our entire season to be able to shoot a 3-pointer and I wouldn’t allow her as a post player, so at the very last second of this game, she shot and nailed one so that was definitely one of the silver linings of today for me.”

The South was coached by Adam Boomhower of St. John Lutheran (Ocala).

“I’ve known most of these girls since they were little, so it was amazing to be able to coach them one last night,” Boomhower said. “They played amazingly. I knew they would. There was a lot of chemistry on the team. They gave 100% effort all of the time and it was fun to be a part of that.”

The West boys team at The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase on Saturday.
Photo by Aiden Wacksman The West boys team at The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase on Saturday.

In the first boy’s matchup of the day, the West defeated the North, 74-63, as Williston’s Kyler Lamb and Reggie White scored 27 and 22 points, respectively.

“It was fun being able to be a part of this, my last high school game, so it was definitely a fun experience,” said Lamb, who finished second in the voting for the Florida Dairy Farmers Class 1A Player of the Year. “I just came out to shoot the ball and see how many shots I could make, just have fun, still get my teammates involved, and just compete.”

Buchholz’s Palmer Walton added 14 points for the West, while Baker County’s Dawson Norman led the North with 23 points, including five 3-pointers in the third quarter.

Dixie County’s Kade McCaskill added 12 points for the North, followed by Baker County’s Javeon Reed with 10 points and Dixie County’s Carter Hodge with nine points.

It was just a five-point game, 54-49, entering the fourth quarter.

The East boys team at The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase on Saturday.
Photo by Aiden Wacksman The East boys team at The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase on Saturday.

In the second game, the West, which was coached by Denarius Harris, the son of Buchholz coach Elliot Harris, who assisted along with Williston coach Jim Ervin, defeated the East, 78-56, to win the championship with a 2-0 record.

Lamb (University of Tampa), led all scorers with 20 points, followed by Williston’s Javon Brown, a Toledo University football signee, and Walton (16 points).

Buchholz’s Dylan Lloyd just missed double digits with nine points, followed by White with eight points.

“It felt great being able to play with my teammates one more time before college,” said White. “I played pretty well the first game but the second game I was a little tired and took a little break off, but I played pretty well.”

The East was led by First Assembly Christian’s (Ocala) Ta’Bryant Wooden with 19 points, followed by D’Mareon Manning of Vanguard (Ocala) with 12 points.

The best game of the day was the final session.

The North boys team at The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase on Saturday.
Photo by Aiden Wacksman The North boys team at The Prep Zone All-Star Showcase on Saturday.

The North, which was coached by Lafayette’s (Mayo) Terrill Murphy, edged the East, 67-63, for second place in a game that wasn’t decided until the final minute.

McCaskill made seven 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 27 points.

“To come out and play a couple of games with a few guys that I know was pretty fun,” he said. “I’m glad I came out here and got to represent my school, me and Carter.”

Norman added 15 points, followed by Reed with 11 points.

Four players scored in double figures for the East, which was coached by Vanguard’s (Ocala) Travis Licht.

Vanguard’s Johnardo Turner had 15 points, while Manning had 12, Lake Weir’s (Ocala) Amari Kiner added 11 and Bradford’s (Starke) Damarion Hankerson finished with 10 points.

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