February 12, 2024

Eustis Boys Basketball Team To Host First Playoff Game in 9 Years

3.2 min read| Published On: February 12th, 2024|

By Kyle Coppola

Eustis Boys Basketball Team To Host First Playoff Game in 9 Years

3.2 min read| Published On: February 12th, 2024|

The Eustis Boys Basketball team has earned the #3 seed in the Class 4A State Basketball tournament. After an amazing regular season, The Eustis Panthers made it to the Class 4A District 6 Championship game against The Villages. It was a back-and-forth game with The Villages coming out on top in that game by mere inches.

This is the first playoff game that Eustis will host in 9 years. The last time was in 2015, so it’s been nearly a decade in the making! It is worth noting that the girls’ teams hosted playoff games in 2022 and 2023. We had a chance to talk with Eustis Athletic Director Matthew Burgess who was very excited.

(Ole Reliable will once again be in the spotlight on Thursday evening in Eustis. It’s been 9 years since the Eustis High School Gym hosted a boys Playoff game. When full, this place is one of the most indimidating and loudest places to play in Lake County. What history will be written inside this gym on Thursday evening? Photo Credit – Facilitron)

“This means that Eustis basketball is almost back to where we think we should always be. We have narrowly missed out on regionals the last two years, but finally got over that hump. From 2003-2007, regionals ran through Eustis! We are hoping this is the start of that happening again,” said athletic director Matthew Burgess.

“There is a certain buzz starting to build around campus. Everybody knows how special this team is, and the community is ready to show up Thursday evening and back our Panthers,” said Burgess.

(Senior Jayveon Dale #3 leads the Panthers in points scored this season. He is a sound defensive player as well averaging around 3.3 steals per game.)

“This year we are playing like a true team. Not just one person is carrying the overall load. When we need a shot, there are a legit 5 guys who can take it. Everybody accepts their roles and understands that winning is the most important stat,” said Burgess.

Eustis nearly won the district championship game on a last-second buzzer-beater 3-pointer, but the ball skipped off the rim and was just an inch off target. While they did not win the district championship against The Villages, Eustis did end up with a great section of their bracket. They will be the #3 seed and host Discovery.

(Coach Wesley Green has had one of the best years of his coaching career. The former Eustis alumni has been such an important part of this team due to his leadership on and off the court.)

Meanwhile, The Villages ended up as the #4 seed and, while they will host a game, it will be against Palatka, which will be a challenge. Worth noting that Umatilla High also got in and will face Palm Bay in the opening round of the tournament.

Discovery will not be an easy first round game. Eustis #3 Jayveon Dale, #1 Anthony Hines and #4 Cornelius Hines will need to have big games. Timothy Key has been money from the three-point line lately. But Discovery is 20-6. They present a challenge with Darius Livingston scoring 21 points per game on average. Seniors Lucson Jean and Willie Wilson will provide support to Livingston.

(Timothy Key has really impressed at the three-point line down the stretch. He is also money at the free-throw line shooting an impressive 93% from the line which is almost automatic.)

While Eustis is the better team on paper, Discovery will be a diffictult first round matchup. The 6th man will be key in this game. Eustis has one of the loudest gyms in Lake County when it is full to capacity. The old school Florida styled gym is an intimidating place to play and always has been. Fans are right on top of the court and Eustis is expecting a maximum capacity crowd Thursday evening. We reccomend arriving as early as possible if attending. The game will be at 7pm. Ears will be ringing after this one!

(The Eustis Cheerleaders are known for their incredible passion. They are loud and very impressive. They make the game fun, often providing aggressive chants and beats which thunder inside the arena and rattle opponents.)

This is a very exciting time to be a Panther fan! It has been a nearly a full decade since Eustis has hosted a home playoff game! The fans, players, coaches, students, and faculty are ready! They have waited long enough. When they take the floor, it will have been 3,288 days since the last home playoff win on February 12th, 2015 against Satellite. That year the Panthers reached the Regional finals but lost to Cardinal Gibbons. Go Panthers!

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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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