Santa Fe dominates in wire-to-wire win

Santa Fe (Alachua) won the opening tip and never looked back in a 66-41 home win over Gadsden County (Havana) in the 4A Region 1 quarterfinals on Thursday.

The fourth-seeded Raiders (16-7) boys basketball team, the Class 4A state runner-ups last season, couldn’t miss in an opening-quarter barrage while playing stout defense throughout the contest against the fifth-seeded Jaguars (16-7).

“It was a playoff atmosphere and we know you gotta win or you go home and that’s what we’ve been preaching all week,” said first-year Santa Fe coach Glen Banks. “We don’t want to go home yet, so these guys were locked in today.”

Junior Mason Brown easily won the tip against his Jaguars’ counterpart who never even jumped. Junior Dontrell Jenkins then dribbled downcourt and nailed a 3-pointer. And that’s when the long-distance Santa Fe fireworks began with sophomore Braylon Guyden hitting two 3s and junior Makhi Lewis and junior Jamiel Watson nailing one each as the Raiders built a 21-8 lead. 

Santa Fe's Dontrell Jenkins drives

“We made so many 3s in the first half it was like the ocean, everybody could throw it in,” said Banks.

Gadsden responded with a 7-0 run to end the opening frame to pull within 21-15, but Santa Fe took up another gear to start the second quarter with Jenkins getting fouled on a short jumper and completed the three-point play at the free throw line. Then Lewis followed with another 3-pointer. Jenkins scored 13 points in the frame, including 2 3s.

The Raiders, who hit eight first half 3s, capped the second quarter with Brown stealing the ball and racing two-thirds of the court untouched for a layup with 30 seconds left for a 43-21 halftime lead. 

Santa Fe's Kyren Washington prepares to shoot

Banks pointed to the Raiders’ press defense and hitting the glass as being pivotal in the contest.

“We rebounded better than we had all year tonight,” he said. “We got a lot of rebounds that led to early offense. It was our press that got us some turnovers.”

The second half proved to be a repeat of the first two quarters with Brown scoring on a layup and Guyden hitting a 3 from the corner. Jenkins added a driving layup and then back-to-back offensive putbacks from Brown and Kyren Washington were a handful of the many third-quarter highlights that saw the Raiders build 58-28 lead with 1:38 left in the quarter. 

Santa Fe sat its starters and emptied its bench with 4:18 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“The more guys we’ve got scoring the better we are, Banks said. “Every time we win we’ve got at least four guys in double digits, so that’s the recipe for us to win is to get everybody involved.”

The Raiders were close to that special recipe as Jenkins scored a game-high 18 points, Guyden had 15, Lewis added 10 and Washington 8. 

Santa Fe travels to Jacksonville at 7 p.m. on Tuesday to face Region 1 top-seeded Andrew Jackson (26-2), who beat No. 8  seed Marianna, 63-60 on Thursday. The Tigers are the Class 4A’s top-ranked team, according to MaxPreps, and were the unanimous top-ranked team in Thursday’s regional power poll.

REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS

Class 4A-Region 1

No. 4 Santa Fe (Alachua) 66, No. 5 Gadsden County (Havana) 41

Class 3A-Region 1

No. 3 Windermere Prep 73, No. 6 P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) 57

REGIONAL SEMIFINALS

Class 1A-Region 3

No. 1 Bradford (Starke) 59, No. 4 Bell 30

Class 1A-Region 3

No. 2 Madison County 76, No. 3 Dixie County (Cross City) 39

Class 1A-Region 4

No. 1 Hawthorne 49, No. 4 Williston 46

Class 1A-Region 4

No. 2 Trenton 45, No. 3 Newberry 35

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