Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boys Basketball Success Still a City Domain

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boys Basketball Success Still a City Domain

Article excerpt

Byline: Chase Goodbread

The basketballs have stopped bouncing at the 20-plus high schools in the counties surrounding Jacksonville. Here in Duval County, there are seven schools -- Sandalwood, Wolfson, Bishop Kenny, Jackson, Arlington Country Day, Ribault and Providence -- tipping off regional semifinal playoffs tonight.

It's not as if we needed this season to know the level of boys basketball played within the city limits is a cut above, because the record books show it, too. Jacksonville prep football has endured its share of criticism for its shortage of playoff success at the public school level, while programs in the surrounding areas -- St. Augustine, Columbia, Suwannee, Palatka and others -- have had runs of dominance at one time or another.

Just the opposite would seem to hold true where basketball is concerned.

Last week in regional quarterfinal play, all seven local winners cruised by at least a 10-point margin of victory and an average margin of 23 points.

In other words, total dominance. Jacksonville teams have brought home 12 state boys basketball championships since 1988, eight by public schools. And you can bet title No. 9 during that stretch, and perhaps No. 10 as well, may be just a couple of weeks away.

History is equally unkind to basketball on the outskirts.

Nease brought a state title to St. Johns County in 2002 for boys hoops, but before that, the time traveler has to go all the way back to 1966 to find the next. Baker County knocked off Zephyrhills 60-46 that year for a state title in the University of Florida Gym.

That is, pre-O'Connell Center, 1966.

That is the Lyndon Johnson administration, peace and love, the birth of Star Trek and Medicare, 1966.

There's just something about that Duval County line. In more sports than one.

BORDER CLASH

Jackson High and Charlton (Ga.) County will play football this fall in a rare and unique matchup of a Gateway Conference school and a true state power from outside the area. …

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