Williston earns split with Newberry

Williston's Javon Brown (2) and Reggie White (0) battle Newberry's Juwan Scippio (24) and Kaleb Woods (5) for a rebound on Friday.
Williston's Javon Brown (2) and Reggie White (0) battle Newberry's Juwan Scippio (24) and Kaleb Woods (5) for a rebound on Friday. (Photo by C.J. Gish)
Photo by C.J. Gish

A near-capacity crowd was on hand to see two of the top boys basketball teams in the state go head-to-head on Friday night in Levy County.

The action was intense early between rivals Newberry and Williston, and after a slow start the host Red Devils pulled away for a 67-53 win.

“We played what I would call a pretty average game for us,” said Williston coach Jim Ervin. “We played well in spurts. The game of basketball is a lot of runs and we made a good run there at the end to secure the victory. Newberry’s got a heck of a basketball team though. I’m hoping we can both be in Lakeland.”

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Greg Maxwell came off the bench to score a game-high 25 points for the Red Devils (13-5), who are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 1A by MaxPreps.

Newberry's Mike Moore (1) attempts a shot against Williston's Kyler Lamb (10) on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Newberry’s Mike Moore (1) attempts a shot against Williston’s Kyler Lamb (10) on Friday.

Newberry (14-4), which is ranked No. 3 in Class 1A, only trailed by five, 14-9, at the end of the first quarter.

However, a 3-pointer by Maxwell extended Williston’s lead to double-digits, 26-15, with 3:39 to play in the half.

Maxwell, who is normally a starter but has been battling some health issues, scored eight of his 13 first half points in the second quarter.

“We’re just trying to conserve him, get him a little healthier,” Ervin said. “I didn’t plan on playing him that many minutes tonight, but he said was ready to go. Greg’s an exceptional player.”

Down 12 at the half, 33-21, Newberry went on a 10-2 run to make it a two-possession game.

Freshman Juwan Scippio drained a 3-pointer to cut it to single digits, 35-26, with 5:30 to play in the third quarter.

Then, senior Mason Smith (12 points) scored just 31 seconds later to close the gap to seven, 35-28, with 4:59 remaining in the quarter.

Senior Mike Moore (team-high 17 points) made two free throws with 4:25 to play in the third to make it a 5-point game at 35-30. He scored 11 points in the second half.

“Mike Moore is relentless on the offensive end,” said Newberry coach Patrick Green. “He wants the ball in his hands. He is a gifted scorer and doesn’t surprise me, even on bad nights gets double digits sometimes.”

Sophomore Logan McCloud made one of two free throws to cut the deficit to four, 35-31, with 3:26 to play in the third quarter.

But Maxwell made two free throws for a 37-31 lead and he added a 3-pointer for a 7-point lead, 40-33, with a little over two minutes to play in the quarter as the Red Devils extended the lead to nine, 44-35, heading into the final quarter.

Williston's Jeythian Merced goes for a loose ball against Newberry on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Williston’s Jeythian Merced goes for a loose ball against Newberry on Friday.

“This is the first time that I thought my guys were really gassed,” said Green, who noted the Panthers were playing their fourth game of the week. “But no excuses. We’ve got to compete. This is a long time rivalry game, top five match-up, and we’ve just got to do a better job at competing.”

Maxwell extended back to double-digits, 45-35, on an and-one just 15 seconds in the fourth quarter, and his bucket with 4:11 remaining extended it to 16 points, 56-40, to ensure there would be no comeback.

Senior Jeythian Merced scored 12 points and junior Quincy Parker added 11 points for the Red Devils, while junior Kyler Lamb (8 points) just missed being the fourth player to score in double figures.

“Our goal is to get all five in double figures,” Ervin said. “Usually we have three or four and it’s not always the same three and four each and every night so it’s a lot of team basketball. I think we ended up with 16 assists tonight so that right there says a lot about team there. There’s what we’re selling and they’ve bought in.”

Newberry, which had a 5-game winning streak snapped, will host Bronson next Friday.

“We get a chance to get some rest so we’re going to take advantage of that rest,” Green said.

Williston will host Chiefland on Thursday. The Red Devils are now 7-0 at home this season.

Newberry's Brandy Whitfield (1) passes to Evalyn Guild (15) against Williston on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Newberry’s Brandy Whitfield (1) passes to Evalyn Guild (15) against Williston on Friday. (Photo by C.J. Gish)

Newberry 56, Williston 42 (Girls) – The visiting Panthers built a 10-point first quarter lead, 16-6, but the host Red Devils were able to rally and tie the game at 23-all at the half.

But in the third quarter Newberry, which is ranked No. 7 in Class 1A by MaxPreps, outscored Williston, 26-10, en route to a 56-42 win on the road.

Newberry's Natreana Akanni (5) blocks Williston's Acacia Haynes' (23) shot on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Newberry’s Natreana Akanni (5) blocks Williston’s Acacia Haynes’ (23) shot on Friday.

“Normally we’re a second half team, we’ve been that way all year,” said Newberry coach Dameon Hughes. “They find something within them to come back out and play Newberry basketball so that’s a total team effort, coaches and players as well.”

Three players scored in double figures for Newberry (17-3), which won its seventh straight game.

Freshman Brandy Whitfield (game-high 24 points) hit two free throws to start the third quarter for a 25-23 lead as the Panthers never trailed in the second half.

Whitfield scored 14 of her points in the third quarter as Newberry extended the lead to 16 points, 49-33, at the end of the third quarter.

“She plays so gracefully,” Hughes said. “Sometimes I say, ‘Brandy listen, that shot’s not working,’ and she goes out and makes three in a row and I’m like what I am talking about, keep shooting. She’s a phenomenal player and I’m just glad she’s on my team.”

Seniors Deasia Bryant and Evalyn Guild finished 13 and 11 points respectively for Newberry, which will travel to Bronson on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, senior Acacia Haynes and 8th-grader Delecia Dallas, who made four 3-pointers, led the Lady Red Devils (6-8) with 16 and 14 points, respectively.

Williston will play at Dixie County (Cross City) on Tuesday.

Newberry's Alexis Boyd (21) and Williston's Delecia Dallas get tied up for a jump ball on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Newberry’s Alexis Boyd (21) and Williston’s Delecia Dallas get tied up for a jump ball on Friday.
Newberry's Sarah Beaulieu (left) and Evalyn Guild (right) go for the ball against Williston's Acacia Haynes on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Newberry’s Sarah Beaulieu (left) and Evalyn Guild (right) go for the ball against Williston’s Acacia Haynes on Friday.
Williston's Tia Coleman (10) defended by Newberry's Sarah Beaulieu on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Williston’s Tia Coleman (10) defended by Newberry’s Sarah Beaulieu on Friday.
Newberry's Logan McCloud (10) attempts a shot against Williston's Javon Brown (2) on Friday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Newberry’s Logan McCloud (10) attempts a shot against Williston’s Javon Brown (2) on Friday.

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