State Semifinals at stake for area teams

Tonight, the Hawthorne girls basketball team will travel to Wildwood for a Class 1A-Region 4 Final. The winner will advance to the FHSAA state tournament in Lakeland next week.

The Hornets, who rallied past Trenton in the regional semifinals last Thursday, 43-39, are seeking their fourth straight trip to the state semifinals.

Last year, Hawthorne, which is the only area team remaining in the girls basketball state playoffs, lost to Ponce De Leon in the Class 1A title game after winning the state title the year before.

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To make it back to Lakeland, they’ll have to beat the No. 1 team in the state on the road.

The No. 4 Hornets (16-5) lost to the Wildcats, 46-32, in the 1A-District 8 championship game on Friday, Feb. 4, in Wildwood.

In the first meeting less than two weeks ago, eighth-grader Narjhani Harris led Wildwood with 12 points, while junior Kailani Lindsey, who leads the team at 12 points per game, had 11. Junior Kentavia Hagins led Hawthorne with 11 points.

Wildwood (17-4), which won back-to-back state titles in 2017 and 2018, hasn’t lost to a 1A school all season, while Hawthorne’s only loss to a 1A school was at Wildwood.

Meanwhile, the P.K. Yonge girls and the Gainesville boys are the only two area soccer teams remaining in the state playoffs.

The Lady Blue Wave, the No. 1 seed in 3A-Region 1, will host No. 6 seed Providence (Jacksonville) tonight at 7 p.m. in the regional final.

This past Friday, P.K. Yonge edged Wolfson (Jacksonville), 2-1 in double overtime, in the regional semifinals to advance, rallying from a 1-0 deficit in the second half.

“Resilience in the face of adversity was the biggest difference in Friday’s game against Wolfson,” said P.K. Yonge coach Rebecca Schackow, whose team also beat Florida High (Tallahassee) in the regional quarterfinals. “The difficulties we faced with finding our rhythm and finding the back of the net would have been an easy excuse to give up. But our team did not give up. We took risks and strategized and never stopped giving our best effort.”

Freshman Faith Hardy, who leads the team in goals, tied the game with just over five minutes to play in regulation and then scored the game-winner in double overtime to put the Lady Blue Wave (14-1-2) one win away from their first state semifinals berth in school history.

The visiting Stallions (11-3-2) eliminated Episcopal (Jacksonville), 3-1, in the other Region 1 semifinal. Columbia International signee Marisa Dill is among the leaders for Providence, which has never made the final four in girls soccer.

“Composure will be the key against Providence,” Schackow said. “We play so well when we are calm, and confident, and composed. So, if we can relax, knowing who we are and what we are capable of, we will play our best.”

The state semifinals are this Friday night at 7 p.m.

Tomorrow night at 7 p.m. the Gainesville boys, the No. 1 seed in Class 5A-Region 2, will host River Ridge (New Port Richey) in the region final.

GHS advanced with a 1-0 win against New Smyrna Beach in Saturday’s regional semifinals, after edging Gateway (Kissimmee), 2-1, in the regional quarterfinals.

There have been a couple of ties (Tallahassee Leon and Buchholz, 0-0) on the schedule, but the Hurricanes (15-0-2) have yet to lose this season.

“We have a lot have kids starting who have been in our program for a while,” said Gainesville coach Basil Benjamin. “We try to stay organized defensively and play with energy throughout the game.”

Senior Jean Mairena leads the ‘Canes with 14 goals, including their only goal in the win against New Smryna Beach.

Freshman Christian Ortiz has a team-leading 22 goals for River Ridge, which defeated Lake Minneola on the road, 1-0, in the other Region 2 semifinal with freshman Chase Smith scoring the game-winner.

The Royal Knights (15-4) have only allowed two or more goals in a game only three times all season.

“They don’t concede a lot of goals, so we need to find ways to manufacture goals while limiting their scoring opportunities,” Benjamin explained. “Basically, do what we have done all season long.” 

The winner will advance to the state semifinals this Saturday at a site TBA.

Tuesday, Feb. 15

Girls Basketball – Class 1A-Region 4 Final

No. 3 Hawthorne (16-5) at No. 1 Wildwood (17-4), 7 p.m.

Girls Soccer – Class 3A-Region 1 Final

No. 6 Providence (Jacksonville) (11-3-2) at No. 1 P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (14-1-2), 7 p.m.


Wednesday, Feb. 16

Boys Soccer – Class 5A-Region 2 Final

No. 7 River Ridge (New Port Richey) (15-4) at No. 1 Gainesville (15-0-2), 7 p.m.


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