Franklin County’s 16-and-under team are headed to the TNC (True National Champion) National Tournament in Hampton, Virginia this week after a busy summer off-season.
On July 6-7, and July 12-13, both county basketball teams represented the local community very well in the North Florida Hoopfest at Tallahassee Community College and the TNC Regional Shootout National Qualifier.
All players - for both the younger team and the older team who played in these tourneys - were Tyler Howard, Marshall Sweet, Kenneth Wilson, Carza Harvey, Cameron White, Josue Barahona, Mercury Wynn, Tyler Farmer, Wesley Norred, Sharod Senatus, Brycen Beverly, Daijon Penamon, Nathan Jones, Jonathan Jones, Sean Williams, Mikalin Huckeba, Landon Nash, Jan Lowe, Chance White, Cameron Nash, Tyrell Green, Aric Sowell, Jeremiah Stephens, and Micah McLeod.
Kelsey Jones and Logan McLeod were not able to participate in either due to injury. Coaches were Michael Sweatt, Jeremy Williams, and Ricky Jones.
North Florida Hoopfest
The 13-and-under team placed fourth in the North Florida Hoopfest by defeating the TAB Spurs 32-29. Standout players for the tourney were Nash offensively, Williams defensively, and Nathan Jones all-around. Penamon was most improved, Sowell made a lot of clutch three-point shots for the team, and Huckeba made many crucial midrange shots to help pull the team through.
The 16-and-under team place third in the tournament, going 2-0 in regular play before losing in the semifinal game to the Alleyhoopers with players from Tallahassee and Wakulla making up that team.
In the first game against the Tallahassee Tarheels, the Seahawks won 70-35. Norred, Harvey, Senatus, and Barahona were the standout players, as everybody on the team contributed, whether on defense, offense or all around.
“It was one of our best-played games of the summer,” said Sweatt.
In the second game the Hawks played the TAB Spurs and blew a 20-point lead in the first half to be up 28-27 at the half. In the second half the teams traded baskets throughout and the Hawks found themselves down by two with a minute left.
“We set up full court on defense and Tyler Howard along Marshall Sweet got a good hard trap on in the corner,” said Sweatt. “Carza Harvey then got a tipped steal to Howard who then passed the ball back to Carza for the lay-up and tie. “
Sweatt said the team was able to get a stop on defense. “I noticed the Spurs were walking back so I elected not to call a timeout with 10 seconds left,” said Sweatt.
Senatus then dribbled the length of the court and won the game with a lay-up. The Spurs heaved up a full court contested shot with three seconds left which missed wide, giving Franklin County a 61-59 win and a berth in the semifinals to face the Alleyhoopers.
A few late foul shots by the Alleyhoopers earned them a 63-49 win as the Hawks finished the tourney in third place.
The 13-and-under team finished second in the TNC Regional Shootout National Qualifier, even with the absence of starting center Nathan Jones.
Sweatt said standout players for the tournament on the team were Lowe offensively, Howard defensively, and Nash all-around. Penamon played well, and White made some great hustle plays and a couple of clutch layups in the semifinal game. McLeod played some great defense as well.
Sweatt said Nash hit a game-winning two-point jump shot in the semifinal game to help lift the team to the championship game. In that game, the Hawks were down 15-11 at the half but ran out of gas in the second half losing 20-37. The last tournament for the 13-and-under team was played July 19-21 in Tallahassee.
TNC Regional Shootout National Qualifier
The 16-and-under team won their first tournament of the season which started back in April. It was at the right time, since this was the regional shootout, with the winner of this tourney earning an automatic bid and invitation to the TNC (True National Champion) National Tournament in Hampton, Virginia.
“We have placed second, falling short in four different tournaments, this offseason and the kids have been getting more and more tired of being second,” said Sweatt. “At the beginning the kids seemed to be just complacent and excited just to make a tournament championship game but after falling short on the second attempt this offseason, they have been everything but complacent.”
In the first game the Hawks faced a familiar foe, the Heat, with players from North Florida making up that team. The Hawks had lost to them in a previous championship game a few weeks ago.
“Not today, our defense was all over the place,” said Sweatt. “It looked at times like we had seven guys on defense!”
The Hawks allowed only three points in the first half with the halftime score 18-3. In the second half the Heat hit a few three-pointers, and the final score was 35-14. “We did not play great on offense but our defense was so intense and fast that it made up for the lack of offense,” said Sweatt.
In the second game the Seahawks faced the Tallahassee Tarheels who already had secured a bid going to nationals. “They managed to handle our full court press in the first half very well as we did not come out playing as intense as the previous game,” said Sweatt.
Down 21-13 at the half, the Hawks were told to win the possession battles” with our man-to-man defense in the 1/4 court and we will mix in some half court press in between,” said Sweatt. “That's exactly what we did, winning the second half executing our defense and only allowing them to score seven points in the second half. Our offense picked up as our defense did and we won 38-27.”
In the third game, the semifinals, the Hawks faced the Georgia Rams. “This game can be defined as ‘run’ because that's what our game plan was and that's what we forced them to do,” said Sweatt. “We won this game with a final of 40-20.”
In the championship, the Hawks again faced the Tarheels, who had advanced in the losers’ bracket. “This game was a battle, but our team speed was too much for them as we won 41-33,” said Sweatt. “It seemed close but they hit a couple of late treys to make it seem close. The kids were very excited to win this tournament as it means we are now going to Nationals in Hampton, Virginia this week. I am very proud of the team and I hope we will have Kelsey Jones and Logan McLeod back for Nationals.”
The Hawks competed in a July 26-28 tourney at Tallahassee Community College. “This is the live recruiting week for college coaches so there should be some good exposure for the kids at this tourney and competition,” Sweatt said.
He thanked the teams’ sponsors for their support and donations - Franklin County Recreation and Parks, Gander Auto Parts, Fisherman's Choice, Sandy Beach Properties, C and S Service, Barber's Seafood, Gulf Coast Auto Parts, Red's Family Store LLC, Water Street Seafood, R Gray and Associates, Buddy Ward and Son Seafood, George Thompson, and Jimmy Gander.