February 29, 2024

The Villages Plays Andrew Jackson in State Semifinal Matchup in Lakeland

3.2 min read| Published On: February 29th, 2024|

By Kyle Coppola

The Villages Plays Andrew Jackson in State Semifinal Matchup in Lakeland

3.2 min read| Published On: February 29th, 2024|

One thing has been constant about the evolution of The Villages athletics, and that is to expect the unexpected. Just a short 20 years ago, no one could have thought the basketball powerhouse that The Villages would become in a short two-decade span. Once an afterthought in Lake & Sumter County, that is no more. The Villages has become the team to beat. That has been clearly evident especially the past two seasons as this school has dominated the region.

(This is one of the best teams that The Villages has ever put on the court. Not only is the starting roster one of the best in the area but the bench is also very deep.)

Honestly that has been the case over the past decade as The Villages Charter High School has seen incredible growth with students and athletes who have expanded the program extensively. Starting in the mid-2010s with the first team to win a district championship to now making the State Semi-finals for the second year in a row the team is ready to showcase it’s talent once again on High School basketball’s biggest stage. Last year The Villages made the state finals but lost. Is this the year they break through with their first state championship?

Head coach of The Villages Colt McDowell has been such a great asset to The Villages program. Since he has come onboard, The Villages has really hit the next level in terms of talent and coaching ability. McDowell, who played his high school basketball at Leesburg High under coach Patrick Todd, learned from the best. He and his team, including athletic director Richard Pettus, have built the program to rival many of the top schools in Florida.

(Coach Colt McDowell has built an incredible program at The Villages. Over the past near decade he has produced NBA talent and division 1 college athletes.)

Schools like Providence, Olympia, Oak Ridge, and more are all within reach of winnable games for The Villages. This was the hardest schedule The Villages has ever played in the history of the program this season. The difficult games have prepared the team to face stiff competition in Class 4A. That has certainly been evident as they have had little trouble winning their way into the state semifinals.

However, this is where the competition is at its peak. The Villages come in as the #4 seed and will take on one of the best teams in the state, Andrew Jackson, on Thursday at 3 pm. If The Villages can win that game, they would face either North Broward Prep or Gibbs in the finals. Andrew Jackson is always a threat, and this year they have statistically one of the best teams in at least 5 years. They are always a perennial powerhouse and they will be looking to take The Villages out.

(Aaron Britt Jr. goes in for a layup. He has been very impressive this year for The Villages.)

For the Buffalo, they have relied on Jared Thompson, Chris Washington, Ben Koubek, Kymani Weathers, and Adyn Corbin as the first team. They have a deep bench which includes sophomore Brisun Hammermeister, Jomar Bernard, Aaron Britt Jr., and Deonte Sesler, among others.

One would think that Andrew Jackson poses the greatest threat to The Villages. The FHSAA decided to put The Villages as the #4 seed, and they have been on the road for the majority of the tournament. Now it will come down to how well each team can adapt in Lakeland.

(Chris Washington will need to have a big game against Andrew Jackson. This sophomore already has NCAA division 1 offers. He is one of the most exciting players in Lake & Sumter County.)

One thing about Lakeland is that it is a cavernous space. This is a professional sporting arena, so the way you shoot and the way the ball dribbles is vastly different than the smaller gyms that many teams play in. Last year we saw The Villages clank shots off the rim in the state championship against Mater Lakes but they set the bar high becoming the first team in school history to make it to the state championship. This team should be much better prepared this year and know what to expect in Lakeland as many of the players were on the state championship runner up team last year. Luckily for The Villages, they have a much larger gym this season as they moved to a new campus and should adjust much better to the large arena in Lakeland.

We look forward to seeing how this team performs today and wish them the best of luck against Andrew Jackson!

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About the Author: Kyle Coppola

Kyle Coppola was born in Newton, Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from Curry College in 2016. After traveling to Florida on a family vacation, he decided he could not get enough of the warm weather and made the move from snowy Massachusetts to central Florida 8 years ago.

For the last decade Kyle has gained valuable experience in social media content creation, marketing and sales, writing, video production, sports announcing and even broadcasting for local radio stations, such as FM 102.9 in The Villages and FM 91.5 in Massachusetts. Every year he volunteers at The Villages Charter High School as a play-by-play sports announcer for the football games as well as a public address announcer for the basketball games, including the annual Battle at The Villages Tournament.

Outside the office Kyle is a husband and father to two beautiful girls along with their cat. In his spare time he likes to spend time with his family, travel, play golf and swim. He is also a huge sports junkie and even bigger motorsports fan and loves to attend racing events when he can.

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