By PATRICK CASEY
Cottondale was the only team to win their girls basketball Region final on Saturday and earn a berth to the state basketball tournament in Lakeland of the three that defeated teams from the Area 5 on Tuesday. Cottondale edged Port St. Joe 52-51 on the road to pick up the huge win as Jakia Grimsley hit a pair of free throws to put the Hornets up 52-49 with 10 seconds left in the game. Port St. Joe added a put-back basket at the buzzer, but came up a point shy. Cottondale will face Orlando First Academy (18-9) in the Class 2A state semi-final at 10:30 in the morning on Thursday, February 26. Graceville’s perimeter shooting disappeared at the wrong time on Saturday night as Tallahassee FAMU defeated the Tigers 62-43 in the Region I final. Graceville hit only 3-of-24 three-point shots as FAMU turned up the pressure on defense to keep the Tigers from rallying from a 31-21 halftime deficit. FAMU (23-2) will face Deltona Trinity Christian (23-6) in one Class A state semi-final at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, February 25. Marianna put up a fight at Jacksonville Ribault put could not pull out a win as Ribault ended the Bulldogs season with a 65-55 decision. Ribault center Kayla Brewer, who is listed at 6-2, scored 28 points as Marianna ended the season with a 19-8 record. In Class 4A, Pensacola High (25-2) will play Orlando Bishop Moore at 1:30 in the afternoon on Thursday, February 26, while Pine Forest (28-1) will square off with Winter Park Lake Howell in Class 5A on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Junior Greg Felt was the lone wrestler from South Walton to make it to the state tournament in Lakeland this season. Felt, who wrestles in the 112-pound weight class, lost both his matches on Friday at the Class A state meet. Pasco’s Jasmon Gamez took an 8-2 decision in his opening bout, then Felt was eliminated by Jason Alpau in a 9-6 decision in his second match.
The Walton softball team is off to a 2-0 start after defeating Panama City Bozeman 17-0 and Paxton 11-5 last week. Devin Richardson picked up the win in both games for Walton as the Braves pounded out 26 hits in picking up the win. Layla Roberts rolled up six hits in her first two games with several other Braves swinging the bats well. Shannon Bell drove in a pair of runs against Paxton. Kappi Stewart took the loss for the Bobcats in their season opener.
South Walton’s softball team scored three runs in the top of the seventh to rally for a 6-5 win over Freeport last week to improve to 2-1. Shelby Watson retired 14 batters via the strikeout while her younger sister MacKenzie provided three hits as the Seahawks rallied for the win.
Ponce de Leon won the opening baseball game of the season over Cottondale 11-1 on Friday night. Paul Griffin had a pair of hits and drove in a run while Ryan Yates had a two-run double. Brandon Howell picked up the win as he allowed only three hits while recording four strikeouts on the mound.
Walton defeated Freeport in the opening tennis match for both teams on Thursday. Walton’s boys won by a 4-3 margin with the girls team taking a 4-2 advantage. Walton’s Zack Baker, Curtis Miller and Heath Morgan all won in singles competition with Curtis Miller and Luke Adams combining to win in doubles. Freeport’s Boo Coleman and Kyle Kidder both won their singles matches. Julia Doeng, Karrie Fields and Taylor Johnson won for Walton on the girls side with Liza Ingram and Allyson Howell claiming a win in doubles. Freeport’s Teryln Akridge and Nikki Blalock won in singles competition.
Congratulations to Gulf Coast Community College as their women’s basketball team won their 12th consecutive Panhandle Conference title. Coach Roonie Scovel has done a great job with the program and they are as dominant a women’s junior college program as there is in the entire country.
Contact Patrick Casey at The DeFuniak Herald with your local sports notes at: firstname.lastname@example.org.