District Champs

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Face South Sumter tonight

By Steve Jarboe

It was certainly no easy task that faced the 2012-2013 Williston Red Devil Basketball team.

 The Red Devils finished as the regular season district runner-up  with a 7-3 record, splitting games with Fort White, Bradford and Santa Fe in the District 4A regular season. Fort White, after acquiring three transfer players for this season, finished in first place and hosted the district playoffs.

After Santa Fe downed Interlachen, and Bradford took down Keystone Heights on  Feb. 5, it was time for the district semifinals. 

Fort White took out Santa Fe   Feb. 8,  following the Red Devils’ game against Bradford. 

The Red Devils took a 48-40 lead into the fourth and final quarter. The Tornadoes however were not ready to go home and end their season. 

It was the Tornadoes 6' 10' Justin McBride who pushed his way under the basket and laid in the basket as the clock ran out to tie the game at 64-64. The Red Devils had no one to blame for the overtime except their own poor free throw shooting. The Red Devils  hit eight and missed nine as the game ended in a tie at regulation time. 

This set up an exciting overtime period that saw the Red Devils come alive.

With just over one minute left in the overtime period, the Red Devils had built a 79-70 lead.

 During this overtime stretch the Red Devils’ Tre Wilson hit four of four  free throws with his twisting reverse layup putting the game out of reach for the Tornadoes,  leaving the Red Devils set to face Fort White for the district championship. 

Against Bradford Wilson and Damien Strange each knocked down 26 points, and junior Alex Porter connected for 13 points, including a key 3-point basket late in the fourth quarter. McBride playing in his final High School game for the Bradford Tornadoes scored 34 points.

This brings the Red Devils back to the Fort White Gym on Saturday night Feb. 9, for the District Championship game. 

The game was all it was built up to be with the two teams having won regular season games against each other. The game was back and fourth in the first half, as the Red Devils held a slight 27-24 halftime lead. Again the Red Devils had trouble at the free throw line in the first half that allowed the Indians to stay close in the contest.

Again, it was poor free throw shooting by the Red Devils that allowed the Indians to tie the game at the end of the third quarter at 41-41. With under a half minute to play in the game and the Indians holding a three point lead, Junior Earl Brown sank a high arching 3-point basket to tie the game at 57-57. Following a fort White turnover the Red Devils had the ball out of bounds with 7 seconds left. A lob pass to Brown went in and out of the basket as time ran out in regulation play. 

The Red Devils were set to play their second overtime game in back to back nights at the Fort White gym.

The Red Devils sucked it up one more time as they went on to take their SIXTH STRAIGHT4A  DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIP in overtime as the downed the Fort White Indians 66-62.

Brown had 23 points for the Red Devils, as David Heinkel had 14 points, Tre Wilson had 13 points.

Melton Sanders led Fort White with 24 points.

 The Red Devils will host South Sumter on Thursday night Feb. 14 in the Regional game while Fort White will travel to Mount Dora for their Regional appearance. It is very possible these two teams could meet again if both win on Thursday night for the Regional Semi Finals on Tuesday Feb. 19, with the winner going to the Regional Final on Saturday Feb. 23. This winner advances to the State Final 4 played Feb. 26 – March 2.