HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Raiders' Wali shows off his versatility in district tournament
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 12:30 a.m.
Before pushing his goals total to 34 in last Friday's District 5-2A championship game, Arric Wali had already earned a reputation as one of the area's top scoring threats.
After forcing a pair of turnovers that led to both goals in the No. 2-seed Raiders' 2-1 win at top-seeded Keystone Heights, the junior striker was also being considered by Santa Fe's coaches as one of their leading defenders.
“One of the good things about him is during the district games, he actually played defense,” Raiders assistant coach Tim Hinchman said. “He was like our first-line defender. So when they would try to drop the ball back, he would put pressure on their defenders which caused them to do errant passes.”
Following a scoreless first half against the Indians, Wali found the net in the 48th minute for his third goal of the tournament after one of his pressures deep in Keystone Heights' territory.
Wali then supplied an assist off a similar turnover to midfielder Jorge Garcia to give Santa Fe a 2-0 lead, which would stand until the Indians found a late score with 30 seconds remaining.
“Once we got (Wali's) goal, their team started to unravel,” Hinchman said. “We got more comfortable and they started to get very nervous. Within five minutes later, we scored our second goal.”
On Thursday, Wali also scored two goals in Santa Fe's 4-0 win against P.K. Yonge in the semifinal round of the district tournament.
With their second straight district title, the Raiders' form looks to be peaking at the right time behind Wali's creativity. Santa Fe (16-3-3) is unbeaten in its last five games since a 2-0 loss to Keystone Heights on Jan. 4, in which Wali was slowed by an illness and midfielder Alex Garcia (10 goals, 17 assists) sat out with a knee injury.
“We're actually finally healthy,” Hinchman said. “I think every other team (in the playoffs) has injuries. We finally have a full squad. … Everyone who was ill or injured is coming back, so I think that's one of our advantages heading into next week.”
The Raiders are slated to host Pierson Taylor in the regional quarterfinals Wednesday at 7 p.m.
JIMMIE TAYLOR III, SUWANNEE: The senior shooting guard nearly posted triple-doubles in consecutive games last week with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists in the Bulldogs' 70-58 win Monday against Jacksonville Trinity Christian and then 24 points, 9 rebounds and 11 assists to lead Suwannee to a 64-58 victory Thursday over Hamilton County. Taylor capped his week with a 33-point outburst Friday to lead the Bulldogs' past Jacksonville Mandarin, 64-58.
PEDRO GARCIA, SANTA FE: The junior midfielder had a hand in 3 goals during the Raiders' 4-0 win against P.K. Yonge in the District 5-2A semifinals last Thursday. Garcia scored a pair of goals and also chipped in an assist. A day later in the district final, Garcia helped Santa Fe control the midfield in its 2-1 win for the district title against top-seeded Keystone Heights.
MEGAN NEAL, GAINESVILLE: The sophomore won the FHSAA Section 4 Qualifier for the 110-pound class Saturday at Belleview and advanced to the state meet for the first time after benching 105 pounds and lifting 125 pounds in the clean and jerk for a 230-pound total.
TEYONNIA BLAKE, LAFAYETTE: An eighth-grader, Blake reached double figures in points and rebounds in all three of her games last week, including a 21-point, 19-rebound effort Friday to lead Lafayette past Columbia. Blake, a forward, also scored 13 points and hauled in 18 boards in a win Monday against Trenton and had 25 points and 13 rebounds in Tuesday's loss to Oak Hall.
SHELBY STOKES, TRENTON: In three games last week, Stokes averaged 24.3 points per contest for the Tigers. The freshman point guard also compiled a combined 13 rebounds, 8 assists and 9 steals in losses to Lafayette and Branford as well as a win against Dixie County.
KEVARRIUS HAYES, SUWANNEE: Hayes, a sophomore center, hit double-digit rebounds in each of the Bulldogs' three games last week, including 20-rebound effort against Hamilton County. In the 64-58 win, he also posted 15 points and 10 blocks for his second triple-double of the season. The 6-foot-8 Hayes also had 12 points, 17 rebounds and 8 blocks to begin the week against Jacksonville Trinity Christian and 8 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks while hosting Jacksonville Mandarin on Friday.
LAMINE MBODJ, ST. FRANCIS: A 6-foot-8 senior center, Mbodj scored a combined 33 points and hauled in 27 rebounds last week to lead the Wolves to a pair of victories against Crescent City and Lecanto Seven Rivers.
JAKE NANGLE, ST. FRANCIS: Nangle, a 6-foot-7 senior center compiled 24 points, 11 rebounds and 7 blocks in the Wolves' formidable frontcourt last week.
RACHEL REID, GAINESVILLE: Reid, a junior, grabbed first place at Saturday's FHSAA Section 4 Qualifier in the 199-pound weight class with a 140-pound bench and a 140-pound clean and jerk for a 280-pound total.
Athletes of the week are determined by nominations from area coaches. Coaches are asked to call in every Sunday between 4-7 p.m.
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