Bartram Trail rolls to girls basketball regional quarterfinal win with help from a rival

Gym renovations at Bartram Trail led to the Bears reaching out to Creekside to host Thursday’s Region 1-8A playoff game.

Red is a power color. It has been said to represent energy, danger and strength.

It was not a color Bartram Trail or Lee High School sported when they faced off Thursday night. That it enveloped both teams was evidence in the strength of the cooperation between Bartram Trail and its neighborhood rival, Creekside.

The Bears defeated Lee 57-35 at Creekside on Thursday in a Region 1-8A girls basketball quarterfinal.

The gym at Bartram Trail High School has been undergoing renovations since late October. Without a home court, and in need of somewhere to play a regional quarterfinal, Creekside High School opened its doors.

The schools are on two ends of Longleaf Pine Parkway but came together for something bigger than any rivalry — a neighbor in need.

“It is nice to call your rival, seven miles down the street knowing what the answer will be,” said Bartram Trail athletic director Ben Windle. “It’s a testament to (their) hospitality and class.”

Creekside Athletic Director Luke Marabell spent four years teaching and coaching at Bartram Trail. Though he has taught and coached at Creekside since it opened, he still has strong bonds with his former school.

“We would have done this for any count school and I know Bartram would have done the same for us,” Marabell said. “It’s definitely a unique situation, but we’re willing to help out any way we can.”

In preparation for Thursday’s game the Bears practiced at Creekside.

Marabell mentioned he sent an email to coaches at Creekside inquiring who would help run the concession stands during the playoff game. He received more volunteers than he needed.

“You have six (public) high schools, but really this is one big community,” Marabell said.

The game itself was never in doubt. Bartram scored the first 10 points of the game en route to the victory. The Bears (18-10) will put their six-game winning streak on the line against Fleming Island in Tuesday’s regional semifinal. That game will also be at Creekside.

The Golden Eagles (24-5) eliminated First Coast 69-32 to set up a fourth meeting of the season. Bartram has won two of those, including a 50-47 win on Feb. 10 in the District 4-8A title game that led to the quest for a home court.

“We worked on our rotations all day in practice (Wednesday),” said Bartram Trail coach Jake Teuscher. “We focused on controlling the tempo. We can speed up a game. We can slow down a game, which is great for us. We know what a team’s weakness was. We knew in order to beat Lee we would have to crowd them and trap them as many times as possible.”

Bartram Trail led 33-7 at halftime. Lee (12-13) did not make a 2-point field goal until 51 seconds remaining in the first half.

“The energy gets me hype before the game,” said Bartram Trail freshman Dana Art. “I’m sure it’s the same for Bella (Weary).”

Art’s statement was an understatement. Weary led all players with 21 points. The freshman guard scored 10 points in the first quarter. The moment her 3-pointer from the corner singed the net with 5:24 to play in the first quarter Lee’s coaches asked for a timeout.

Weary found playing a home game in a high school gymnasium, as opposed to Liberty Pines Academy, a new experience she enjoyed. Having her classmates at the game supporting the Bears made a difference.

“It’s different than a middle school where no one is really there and its parents clapping,” Weary said.

Art scored all eight of her points in the first half.

“At Liberty Pines we started slow,” Art said. “With that energy we were able to play well right off the bat.”

Weary’s first-quarter explosion was followed by senior forward Grace Tybor getting hot in the second. Tybor scored six of her 14 points during the quarter. Ball movement from the Bears allowed Art, Reedy Davenport and Weary to assist simple layups for Tybor.

“They play really well together,” Teuscher said. “A lot of times, when we go through our offense and when I call plays, one thing we do is go out and play basketball. They read each other. They have been playing together for a while now in this their 28th game. We’re starting to click. We’re starting to play good basketball and it’s starting to get where it’s easy for me to put them in the right spot where they need to make the play.”

Teuscher repeatedly ran a play called “St. Johns” when the Bears were on offense. Whether his team was in the blue or red half of the community, it worked against the Generals.

It’s a play he borrowed from Chris Phelps. Bartram Trail’s principal, and former boys basketball coach, was one of more than 100 Bartram administrators, teachers and students who came out to watch the Bears beat the Generals.

Local Roundup: Menendez freshman tosses perfect softball game


Ponte Vedra 56

Belleview 43

Channing Chappell scored 21 points to lead Ponte Vedra to a Region 2-6A quarterfinal win over Belleview (18-10) Thursday night at the Sharks’ gym.

Chappell hit four 3-pointers for Ponte Vedra, which improved to 22-5. Riley Mayer added 12 points and Tess Tibbits scored 11 for the Sharks, who led 26-17 at the half.

Ponte Vedra will host Gainesville Eastside on Tuesday night in a regional semifinal.

Gainesville 72

St. Augustine 46

Senior Brianna Green and freshman Kyra Stauble scored 14 points apiece in a Region 1-7A quarterfinal Thursday night at Gainesville High.

Brakhei Burch added 11 points for the Yellow Jackets, who finished their season at 16-10.

Gainesville will visit Nease for a regional semifinal on Tuesday night.

Eastside 32

Menendez 29

Menendez senior Darrnisha Varnes hit a 3-pointer with 1:35 left to tie the score at 27, but Gainesville Eastside’s Diasia Medley followed with a 3-pointer of her own to put the Rams (16-9) ahead to stay in a Region 2-6A quarterfinal Thursday night at the Eastside gym.

Menendez led 24-22 after three quarters in the defensive battle, but Varnes’ 3-pointer was the Falcons’ first points of the fourth period. Varnes led the Falcons with 17 points.

Menendez finished the season at 15-8 for its first winning record in eight years.

P.K. Yonge 56

St. Joseph 37

St. Joseph led the Region 1-4A quarterfinal 26-21 at the half but couldn’t keep up with the fourth-ranked team in Class 4A in the second half in the loss Thursday night at Gainesville P.K. Yonge (19-7).

Senior Kayla Mansell had 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists in her final game for the Flashes, who finished he season at 13-10. Freshman Jessamy Gaetanos added nine points.

The much taller Blue Wave outrebounded the Flashes by only three, 42-39, but the home team scored 30 points in the paint.

“I’m really proud of my team, especially my seniors,” St. Joseph coach Sherri Nowatzki said. “Their hard work and dedication showed. They were the epitome of team basketball.”


Menendez 10

Palatka 0

Menendez freshman Mandy Taylor threw a five-inning perfect game on Thursday night.

She struck out 13 of the 15 batters she faced and did not let a ball leave the infield. Offensively, Taylor was 1 for 3 with a double and an RBI.

Alexa Gatlin, Lexi Poore, Madi Poore, Maddy Spossey and Leah Bryant each recorded two hits. Both Poore sisters scored twice, as did Spossey. Menendez improved to 1-1.

St. Augustine 9

Crescent City 5

Bailee Esguerra had three hits, including a two-run single in St. Augustine’s four-run first inning Thursday.

Nykki Burres and CeCe Killin each went 2 for 4 for the Yellow Jackets (1-0). Burres knocked in two runs and scored twice. Killin contributed an RBI and a run scored. Taylor Allen scored two runs and Jennah Long drove in a pair of runs.

Freshman Marlee Dillinger picked up the win, scattering four hits, striking out nine and waling one. St. Augustine hosts Ridgeview on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

La Mere wins Matanzas 5K at the tape; Florida native Blaney wins women’s title

In the Daytona 500 they call it a slingshot move. In the Matanzas 5000, it’s simply called a finishing kick. Ian La Mere stalked Garrett Kenyon for the final mile of the Matanzas 5K Saturday morning, then passed him right at the finishing tape to win the event in a time of 14:07, one second ahead of Kenyon.

In the Daytona 500 they call it a slingshot move. In the Matanzas 5000, it’s simply called a finishing kick.

Ian La Mere stalked Garrett Kenyon for the final mile of the Matanzas 5K on Saturday morning, then passed him right at the finishing tape to win the event in a time of 14:07, one second ahead of Kenyon.

“He took the lead away from me at two miles,” said La Mere, competing as part of the Hansons-Brooks team out of Rochester Hills, Michigan. “He was running away from me, so I guess I kind of switched gears. I thought ‘Well, he’s in front so I better chase him down.’ I’m glad I had a kick to match his.

“There was a strategy to wait until we came around the final turn there, but it was more like ‘Whoop, I better go now.’ It was a fun race. I loved the course. It was really cool running along the bay and then coming back through the neighborhoods.”

Kenyon, racing for House Theory out of Beaver Dams, N.Y., thought he had the race won.

“It was a great race,” said the Colorado Springs, Colorado, native. “St. Augustine is a beautiful place. The first mile there was a pack of like six or seven of us. We were really tight. We kind of worked together. The second mile it kind of slowed us up a little bit, and so the final mile three of us just kind of broke away. I pushed the pace, took the lead a little early. I thought I had it. It’s all good, though. It will get me ready for the next race.”

La Mere wasn’t the only Hansons-Brooks runner in the event. The top three women finishers came down from Michigan with him, including a Florida native who won.

Anne-Marie Blaney grew up in Ocala and attended UCF. She finished in 15:53.

“We came down here for some good weather and good training,” she said. “Our coach has always been a fan of this race. It’s an awesome flat course, which I’m not used to in Michigan. I’m from Florida, so it’s nice to be back in the Motherland. It ended up being a real fast race. It was a really fast course and it was really fun to run.”

Second place women’s finisher Chelsea Blaase was four seconds behind her teammate, and 24 seconds ahead of third-place teammate Olivia Pratt.

“We all work together in practice every day and encourage each other,” said Blaase. “It’s nice to have a team atmosphere like that. We worked out in Orlando and came down here Thursday night.”

Head coach Kevin Hanson had more than one reason for bringing his team down south.

“I love St. Augustine,” he said. “My father lived here for a period and my brother got married here.

“We come down here to compete for the footing more than anything else. The temperature we can dress for, but if it’s sloppy footing we can’t get the work in. Also, if it’s cold you have too many layers on and it’s harder to run fast. Being down here in shorts, being able to sweat, makes it a lot more fun.”

Race director Reuben Franklin said they were able to top last year’s record number of competitors (985).

“We were just at 1,000,” he said. “It was a great day for a race and that finish was exactly what we were hoping for.”

St. Joseph won the trophy for the St. Johns County high school with the most runners at the starting line.

Bartram Trail girls soccer eliminated by nationally ranked Montverde Academy

Bartram Trail led twice, but could not hold off the Eagles in a Class 4A girls soccer state semifinal.

Robbie Aristodemo believes that when varsity soccer is at its best, it is superior to the club level.

He wasn’t quite ready to crown Friday night’s match as the best of varsity soccer; but Montverde’s girls soccer coach was more than appreciative of the technical abilities of the 22 girls who took the field in a FHSAA Class 4A state semifinal.

Bartram Trail had quality in all thirds but not enough to eliminate the nationally Eagles. Jody Brown’s hat trick was enough to send Montverde to a 4-2 win.

“We lost to a better team,” said Bartram Trail forward Maddie DeFranco. “We played our butts off and we gave it everything we could. We left it on the field and I am so proud.”

Bartram Trail (16-4-4) led twice.

Sophomore Tori Grambo got her head onto Taylor Radecki’s long throw in. Her shot bounced onto the ground and into the near corner just five minutes in. Before the Bears could exhale, Montverde freshman Bryiah Drayton responded 85 seconds later to equalize.

Each team’s tactics were clear through seven minutes. Montverde (20-1) would possess, pass and probe for openings in defense. Bartram would try to hit in the counterattack and take advantage of set piece opportunities.

In the 12th that’s what happened. DeFranco took a corner kick and Grambo was once again first to the ball. The sophomore scored her 18th goal of the season to give the home underdogs a 2-1 lead.

“It’s important. If we don’t respond and they have their energy up, a team as good as them will destroy other teams. It was back and forth,” Grambo said.

But after Grambo’s second, Montverde began to exert more and more pressure. The Bears retreated further and further toward their goal. There was a 12 minute stretch where Montverde center backs Adriana Ordonez and Cecilie Nielsen were routinely five yards ahead of the midfield line.

That dominance paid dividends just before halftime when Brown scored her first. Montverde’s left winger isolated a Bears fullback, drifted inside and snatched her shot to the near post past Bartram goalkeeper Julie Arciprete in the 38th minute.

Bartram Trail soccer coach Jen West said it would have given her team an obvious advantage to get into halftime with the lead. Once Brown’s goal went in, it gave the visitors the momentum.

“Her touch was incredible. Her touch was fantastic. Her speed was unstoppable. She was a difference-maker in that game. She got free. She won her individual battles with her speed. She is a good player.”

Brown started the match at center forward. But, it was once she was moved to the left wing she became unplayable. Brown scored two against Melbourne in a Region 2-4A semifinal and two more on Tuesday night in a regional final win over Mitchell. Friday, she scored her second in the 48th minute when she was afforded space on the left.

Five minutes later, Brown had her hat trick as she finished off a ball that was played directly into her path by midfielder Shayla Smart.

Brown does not say much. But, with her touch she didn’t have to. She said her speed allowed her to get behind the Bears.

“The composure was the best part of our game,” Aristodemo said. “We had a lot of possession. That was our plan: Keep the ball, move, get some gaps and get in.”

Montverde’s coach praised the Bears for the technical ability and their strength on set pieces. Afterward, he said he told his players to not clear the ball into touch on their half of the field because Radecki’s throw-ins and free kicks as well as the threat Grambo provided could give them trouble.

Montverde became just the third team to beat the Bears at home in the last two seasons. As was the case with Creekside’s girls last year, and St. Johns Country Day’s girls this year, the Eagles will play for the state championship. Montverde advances to the Feb. 23 final against Estero (25-2-1) in DeLand.

Friday’s loss was the final varsity game for seniors DeFranco, Nicole Wynn, Jade Sparks and Allison Felts. All four were four-year members of the varsity who helped the Bears win a pair of district titles and advance to the school’s second state semifinal.

As devastated as the Bears were when the three whistles arrived to end the match, the tears were shortly replaced by giggles about the time they had together.

“They are special. You have certain groups who are just special,” West said. “Not only with their leadership, (but) they all (brought) different qualities to the team. They were such a good combination. The girls respected them. They looked up to them. They played for them.”

Kasey Schmidt recounts missile scare: ‘It was so terrifying … I thought of all the things I haven’t done.’

Last week’s ballistic missile scare was such a traumatizing experience for University of Hawaii swimmer Kasey Schmidt, she decided to write about it.

The lifelong St. Augustine resident wrote an essay she sent to Swimming World about the false alarm and how the Hawaii swim team dealt with it. The online magazine posted her story on Monday.

“I am an English and economics major and I felt so inspired to write about it because it was frightening,” the college junior said in a phone interview. “I think writing about it helped alleviate the stress.”

At about 8 a.m. last Saturday the swim team was doing a set of 30 50s in its 25-yard pool, meaning after two laps the swimmers would stop and then continue the set. On this particular break, the swimmers saw head coach Dan Schemmel running toward his phone. Everybody froze.

“We had a bad feeling. Nobody went for the next lap,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt thought there might be a gunman, which has always been a fear of hers during swim practice, because it would be “literally shooting fish in a barrel,” she said. She also thought about the possibility of a nuclear threat from North Korea, because in October the university began sending out emails and power points to students telling them to be informed and mindful about a threat to the islands.

Schemmel told the team to get out of the pool and led the swimmers to a door Schmidt had never seen before. They walked down concrete steps into a small dark room that Schmidt described in her essay as “a rather moldy room that hadn’t seen a human or a bleaching agent for a couple decades.”

Over 50 swimmers and coaches stood in the small room for about 15 minutes – there wasn’t enough room for everyone to sit. There was one window that looked directly into the pool under the diving area.

“If the window was going to break, the pool would flood into the room, but we knew it was the safest place we could go,” Schmidt said.

The swimmers didn’t have their cell phones. Schmidt grabbed her water bottle from the pool deck on the way to the underground room. An assistant coach’s phone displayed the emergency alert: “A ballistic missile threat is inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

Schmidt said her life flashed before her eyes.

“We’re college swimmers. We don’t stop practice unless it’s a life-threatening situation,” she said. “It was so terrifying, so disheartening. I thought of all the things I haven’t done.”

Then a calm swept over her. Even though her parents, Brandi and Kevin, weren’t there, she realized she loved everyone in the room – her boyfriend, who is also on the team, and all of her other teammates and coaches.

“I thought about the happiness I gained since I started swimming, the lifelong relationships I’ve gained through swimming. These are the people I’m inviting to my wedding. I had a real connection with everyone in that room,” she said

It struck her how differently people deal with a crisis situation. Some swimmers cried softly, but nobody screamed or panicked, she said. Some cracked jokes, such as, “At least we won’t have to finish the set.” Many comforted their distressed teammates.

Schmidt knew that panicking was useless. This wasn’t her first traumatic ordeal. Ten years ago, when she was 9, she was bitten by a shark on her right thigh while surfing with her mom in the ocean by her Vilano Beach home.

To this day, she doesn’t know how many stitches it took to sew up the wound.

“They stopped counting,” she said.

While the shark bite was painful, at least that was a controllable situation, she said.

“The situation Saturday was completely out of our hands, and that was the scariest part of it all,” Schmidt said.

In the week since the false alert, Schmidt’s life has returned to normal. She went to the beach and wrote the essay. The team got the rest of the day off but they are back in the pool, gearing up for next month’s conference meet.

Schmidt, a freestyle and butterfly sprinter, swam for the Bolles School after beginning her swimming career with the St. Augustine Cyclones.

She started her college career at the University of Virginia before transferring to Hawaii.

The ordeal, she said, brought the team closer together.

In the Swimming World essay, she wrote, “It’s interesting how something so frightening as facing one’s own mortality can connect a group of individuals on such a deep level.”

Local Roundup: Creekside tops Bartram in boys basketball district final

Four St. Johns County boys basketball teams are headed to the playoffs; Flagler College basketball teams split.


Creekside 32

Bartram Trail 30

Creekside won its second straight district title with a gritty win over rival Bartram Trail in the District 4-8A tournament final at Fleming Island. DJ Dumas blocked Xavier Hutchinson’s shot attempt late in the game to secure the win.

J’Michael Plummer led Creekside with 11 points. The senior guard scored six of his team’s seven points in the fourth quarter. Dumas, Noah Lippy and Bobby Kasprzak scored five apiece.

Hutchinson led the Bears (19-7) with 11 points. Ryan Colbert added eight. Creekside (23-4) will host Atlantic Coast on Thursday. Bartram Trail will travel to First Coast. Tipoff for both games is 7 p.m.

Englewood 63

St. Augustine 48

St. Augustine led top seed Englewood 19-16 at the end of the first quarter Friday night, but the host Rams (22-4) held the Yellow Jackets (11-16) to two points in the second quarter to take a 31-21 halftime lead on the way to the District 3-7A title.

Kyrie McMillian led St. Augustine with 13 points. The Jackets travel to Gainesville High on Thursday for a regional quarterfinal.

Palatka 58

Ponte Vedra 52

Jack Johnson blocked 10 shots in the first half and finished with 15 in Ponte Vedra’s loss Friday in the District 5-6A championship game at Matanzas High.

Logan Conway (12 points), Will Mons (12), Reese Russi (11) and Andrew Mathis (10) all scored in double figures for the Sharks. Johnson added eight rebounds, three assists and four points.

The Sharks play Gainesville Eastside on the road in a Region 2-6A quarterfinal Thursday night.


Atlantic Coast 3

Ponte Vedra 2

Michelle Leone and Olivia Zitiello each had two hits and drove in a run for the Sharks.

Zitiello’s RBI single in the second inning tied the game at 1l and gave her four RBIs in two games this season.

The Sharks (0-2) loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh but could not bring in the tying run.

Ponte Vedra pitcher Michelle Holder went the distance. She allowed three runs, struck out five and did not allow a walk.


Saints split

Flagler College (17-7, 14-5 Peach Belt Conference) defeated Francis Marion 64-52 Saturday at Flagler Gymnasium. Post players Tiffany Hodge (15 points) and Tabitha Odabe (11) combined to score 26 points for the Saints.

Odabe grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds and blocked four shots. Malaysia Robinson added 12 points. Francis Marion fell to 14-11, 11-9.

In the men’s game, Cortlin Davis led Flagler (9-15, 6-14) with 15 points and nine rebounds in a 66-58 loss to Francis Marion (18-7, 13-7). Damerit Brown added 13 points for the Saints.

The Saints will play their final home games Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. (women) and 7:30 p.m. (men) against Columbus State.