Class 1A final: Walker, Holmes County win first championship


Holmes County defeated West Gadsden 59-40 in Lakeland on Wednesday to win the Class 1A state boys basketball championship and the first title in school history.

Lakeland Ledger photo
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 07:26 PM.

LAKELAND — Holmes County wasn’t the most heralded Class 1A team in the state entering the postseason. But the Blue Devils finished as the best.

Holmes County charged out early and surged past West Gadsden 59-40 to win the boys basketball championship at The Lakeland Center on Wednesday. The Blue Devils finished 20-8 and defeated the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 ranked teams in their last three games during an historic march. West Gadsden, ranked third, had an eight-game winning streak snapped and ended the season 25-9.

“All the credit goes to the boys, they played hard in the finals and especially hard” against West Gadsden, Holmes County coach Po White said. “Once they got down here they just played like there was no tomorrow. They put everything on the court and win or loss I still would have been proud of them because of their effort.”

Holmes County might not have been regarded as a favorite three weeks ago, but it had one of the best players in Florida. Chris Walker, a University of Florida signee, scored 30 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for a double-double while adding seven blocks. His hot start set the tone as West Gadsden played with scant emotion with leading scorer Brandon Shingles held to just one point.

Holmes County was 10-8 before its current 10-game winning streak with setbacks that included holiday losses in a tournament in Ocala. The Class 6A and 7A competition proved too much, but White and the Blue Devils believed they could do better. And they did.

“In our mind we knew we could have beat those teams, but we just didn’t perform,” White said. “We set them down and explained that everyone has a role and you have to play your role.

“We told them that until we all come together and do that we’ll struggle. We knew we had a team that could compete with anybody we stepped on the court with.”

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