January 12, 2024

Hoops Showdown: Tavares and First Academy-Leesburg Game Preview

2.1 min read| Published On: January 12th, 2024|

By Kyle Coppola

Hoops Showdown: Tavares and First Academy-Leesburg Game Preview

2.1 min read| Published On: January 12th, 2024|

The Tavares Bulldogs travel up the road to play the First Academy-Leesburg Eagles in a non-district game tonight. Both teams are coming into the contest with 3 wins on the season and this is a great opportunity for both programs to get back on track. Especially Tavares who for the first time since 2019/2020 have the most wins in a season with 3 and look to extend that number. Head coach of Tavares Berkley Carey has a young Bulldog team this year but they are very motivated and continue to push forward. “This is my second year at Tavares High School. I was the assistant Varsity coach at Leesburg for 7 years. We had 4 Freshman on Varsity last year. The whole team are freshman and sophomore players with two senior players. We are excited about our future. The culture is changing!” says coach Carey.

The Tavares Bulldogs have not won 5 games in a season since the 2018/2019 season. You have to go all the way back to 2011/2012 the last time Tavares finished with a .500 record, but Tavares is optimistic, not only for the future of the program with some exciting young players, but especially for the game against First Academy-Leesburg. These two teams have played once before this season with Tavares winning the first meeting at home December, 5th by a score of 71-37.

(Amari Smith #2 for First Academy-Leesburg defends against Tavares Nakosi Thomas #5.)

First Academy-Leesburg is led by senior Amari Smith who is a 6”7 Forward. Smith averages 14 points per game. He also leads the team in rebounds per game averaging 10 total. Smith gets help from Bryce Norflee who is a freshman that has been an exciting edition to the Eagles this year. Norflee was one of the key contributors to the Football program this year and has been doing a great job on the basketball court.

(Tavares freshman #13 Matthew Chavez goes in for a layup attempt against First Academy-Leesburg Aiden Jezowski)

Norflee is averaging 11 points per game. Norflee and Smith currently are tied for steals on the season. Junior Rhett Walsh has also contributed heavily this season for the Eagles averaging 9 points. The Eagles will need to put together something special to defend against the Tavares Bulldogs offense that picked them apart last game.

Tavares is a young team with only two seniors listed on the team’s active varsity roster. Freshman Kevin Daniels leads the team with 9 points per game. The 6”0 point guard has had some nice highlights this season especially when in transition with the ball. Daniels gets help from Nakosi Thomas who is a 5’9” guard. Senior Nixen Nichols Jr. leads Tavares in rebounds averaging around 7 per game. Izayia Williams also contributes with around 6 rebounds per game.

Tavares nearly started the season off 3-1 losing a thriller in overtime against Mount Dora earlier in the season. They have been on a six-game losing streak but the Bulldogs can get back on track with a win tonight. If Tavares can stop the threat of Bryce Norflee and Amari Smith then that contains the Eagles offense.

We look forward to what should be an entertaining matchup at First Academy-Leesburg tonight!

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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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