Ridaught: Williston wins third straight SMAC title

The Williston Middle School boys basketball team won its championship game on Jan. 25 and has gone undefeated for three straight seasons.
The Williston Middle School boys basketball team won its third straight Suwannee Middle Athletic Conference (SMAC) championship on Jan. 25 and has won 41 straight games.
Courtesy of Myresha Williams

This past Thursday night, the Williston Middle School boys basketball team won its third straight Suwannee Middle Athletic Conference (SMAC) championship.

It was the second straight SMAC title for head coach Zeriah Folston, who is 35-0 as head coach in his two seasons.

Some of their biggest wins this year include Lincoln Middle School, Westwood Middle School, Hidden Oak Middle School, Lake City Middle School and Lake Butler, who they defeated in the SMAC title game.

“Those were big wins because of the tradition of basketball at those schools,” Folston said. “Those schools traditionally have very good teams.”

WMS, which ranges in ages from 12-14, finished 18-0 this season.

“The kids trust in the process, themselves, coaches and respecting their opponents,” Folston said. “It takes a lot of work to go undefeated for two years plus, especially when you’re getting everyone’s best shot.”

The top seed Red Devils defeated No. 2 seed Lake Butler, 57-51, last Thursday at Keystone Heights to three-peat.

The Tigers rallied from a 14-point deficit to make it close, but the Red Devils led the game from start to finish.

“It’s huge for the community and the kids,” Folston said of winning another SMAC title. “It’s a testament to the work the kids have put in and the support of their families.”

Williston's Jacques Edwards (15), Kyson Chevars (11) and Treston Woody Jones (1) with the middle school championship trophy.
Courtesy of Myresha Williams Williston’s Jacques Edwards (15), Kyson Chever (11) and Treston Woody Jones (1) with the middle school championship trophy.

The Red Devils had a pair of eighth graders who averaged double figures this season.

Treston “Woody” Jones, who is 14 years old, averaged 14 points per game (232 total points), followed by 13-year-old Jacques Edwards (193 points), who averaged 11 ppg.

Jones led the team in the SMAC championship with 18 points, six rebounds, and three steals, along with eighth-grader Todd Brown (12 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals), who is actually fifth in scoring.

Kyson Chever, a seventh-grader, is third on the team with 80 points (5 ppg), followed by eighth-grader Ke’Ari Neal (68 points), Brown (61 points), and eighth-grader Kindric Ellis (59 points).

Edwards has contributed in a number of different ways.

“He is our glue,” Folston said. “He filled the stat sheet across all the categories, rebounding, assists, blocks and steals.”

WMS, which is 50-1 during its 3-year title run, has now won 41 straight, with its last loss coming three years ago in a non-regular season game at Lincoln Middle School at the Alachua County Middle School Tournament.

“My first year we didn’t play in it,” Folston said. “I wasn’t aware of it until late.”

They won the tournament this past season. Their closest margin of victory was 14 points against Lincoln in the first game of the tournament.

Folson said academics and character are huge for him.

Their team GPA is over 3.1.

The Williston varsity team has been building a program and is on the verge of a second straight Class 1A state title, which says a lot about basketball in Levy County the past few years.

Folston said varsity head coach Jim Ervin’s success has trickled down to his program.

“It’s huge for the Williston community,” Folston said. “With most of the leadership on that team homegrown and a young player in Deandre Harvey they all look up to playing so well. It’s special for us to have that level of inspiration and motivation for our young players. They see the standard and they have embraced the work to get there.”

It also serves as a potential feeder program for the younger generation who hope to continue the success on the hardwood floor.

“It’s a special responsibility to play a part in the foundation of the program,” Folston said. “As a middle school coach, you have been entrusted to assist the varsity coaches in developing and preparing the next generation of players to continue the standard. We have several young players in the program who were a part of this three-year run who are starters on the JV and one who starts on the varsity team.”

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