ALACHUA – The Hitchcock’s Challenge basketball tournament ended Thursday night after three days of high-profile high school basketball action at Santa Fe High School.
“We had a great week,” said Santa Fe basketball head coach Glen Banks. “Lots of good basketball. I’m happy that it’s my first year as a coach and that we actually make it to the championship game.”
Santa Fe (8-5), who finished 2-1, faced the Trinity Catholic Celtics (13-2) in a championship game Thursday night at the Legacy Park Multipurpose Center in a game where Trinity Catholic had a 61-43 Defeat the Raiders.
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Trinity Catholic jumps to quick start
The Celtics orchestrated a 12-0 run in the first few minutes of the game, creating a hole too big for the Raiders to ever dig themselves out.
Trinity Catholic received help from four different goalscorers as Seniors Elijah Russell, Jeremiah Russell, Chris Heard and Junior Greg Maxwell each found the basket in the opening minutes of the game.
Trinity Catholic head coach Carlos Villalobos says it’s customary for the Celtics to get out early.
“We did that for the last three or four games and we kind of relaxed,” said Villalobos. “So we talked about it at halftime and we said to the boys, ‘We’ll get up early and relax. We have to stop and play a full game.'”
The Raiders’ athleticism fills the gap
If you look at Trinity Catholic’s list, you see what you get: a lot of size.
Four of the five starters in the Celtics are six feet or taller, while the tallest player in Santa Fe’s roster, Mason Brown, who is 6-5, was not available.
“Yes, they’re size … but they’re not fast,” said Banks. “In the beginning size was a factor, and then I think in the middle of the game our speed somehow balanced us out and we got back into the game.”
In the back half of the first quarter, Santa Fe Junior Dontrell Jenkins began to find his rhythm, dropping two three balls, one coming from far behind the arch.
Jenkins led the Raiders with 18 points while junior colleague Kyren Washington added 11.
“The thing about (Jenkins) is that he’s going to get his,” Villalobos said of Jenkins. “We’re just trying to control him as best we can and we’ve done a pretty good job for the most part.”
Elijah Russell, bad problems haunt Santa Fe all the way
After fighting their way back into the game and reducing the gap to just five, the Raiders set out to strike back in the second half.
However, the great Trinity Catholic man, Elijah Russell Senior, had other plans.
Russell, who stands 6-7 and recently signed up to play soccer for Marshall University, is not only great, but the future Division I soccer player is very strong too.
“He’s not even doing anything particularly offensive,” said Banks. “He just bounces off and plays the ball in. He doesn’t shoot it … rebounds and put-backs. And that’s his specialty. He’s a special player.”
Elijah Russell’s 13 points was the second highest for the Celtics, led by senior Ashton Lovette with 14 points.
Trinity Catholic finished in double digits with all five starters.
Meanwhile, the Raiders found themselves in foul problems down the line, which gave the Celtics an opportunity to capitalize on the foul line.
Trinity Catholic converted 22 of their 31 free throw attempts on Thursday night.
Trinity Catholic finishes an eight game stretch in 10 days. Fortunately for the Celtics, they have an 11-day break before going back into action on Jan 11 when they receive PK Yonge for a tip at 7:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Santa Fe will return to the hardwood on January 4th when they host in Lake City Columbia at 7:30 p.m.