The view from the press box

The Lead In

The sun is shining this morning as we have finally bid farewell to the rain that has been nearly non-stop the last couple of days.

And that means it’s time for high school soccer to resume its District 1-6A tournaments. Both Navarre teams are in action tonight.

The girls were supposed to play their district final last night but will instead play it tonight under the lights of Bennett C. Russell Stadium.

Game time is 6 p.m. and the opponent is a familiar one as the Raiders square off with Niceville. Navarre is seeking its first district crown since 2015. The Eagles have taken the crown the last four seasons.

“I want that district title so bad,” senior Jade Slaybaugh said in an interview on national signing day. “We’ve lost too many times in that game. We know we can do it.”

Navarre head coach Rob Simon is confident as well.

“I hope that hard work and passion can translate into performance. If we can do that, the next couple of weeks could be really fun,” Simon said.

Regardless of the outcome, the Raiders should make it to the regional next week.

The boys are getting their district tournament going after a two-day delay. The semifinal round is tonight and Navarre battles Tate at 7 p.m. at the Ashton Brosnaham Complex.

Niceville plays Crestview in the first semifinal. The championship game is set for 6 p.m. Saturday in Pensacola.

The Raiders and Eagles are looking to square off in the title match for the third consecutive season. The Raiders are seeking their first district crown since 2015. But even a runner-up finish should be good enough to get Navarre into the regional next week.

Raider Domination

Navarre’s girls weightlifting team is sending a school-record 19 to the state meet next week in Panama City after winning the Region 1-2A title in convincing fashion. The Raiders are now seeking their sixth state championship in eight years and are on a mission to achieve that goal after falling short of a title last season when they placed seventh.

There is one correction that has to be made, however, to the story on the regional that appeared in the Feb. 6 edition of the Navarre Press. Sophia Bucinell, who competes in the 183-pound weight class recorded a combined lift of 320 pounds instead of the 265 total that was reported.

As for state, the Raiders the ready.

“Everyone is driven,” senior Alexis Prather said. “We’re doing everything we can to bring the crown back. It was a very defeated feeling not winning it last year. We’re trying to avoid feeling that way this year.”

Overtime thriller times three

Navarre’s girls basketball team nearly pulled off the upset of the year, overcoming a double-digit effort to push District 1-6A favorite Pace into three overtimes Wednesday in a thrilling tournament semifinal showdown in Crestview.

Tied at 59-59 at the end of regulation, Navarre had a slim lead going into the final seconds of each of the first two extra sessions before falling short in the final OT.

It was a gutsy effort by a Navarre team that had lost by double figures twice against Pace in the regular season. The Raiders finish their year at 13-13, the most wins for the team since 2016.

End of the Road

The regular season ends tonight for Navarre’s boys basketball team. The Raiders battle Washington at 7:30 p.m. and look to extend their winning streak to 10 games. Second-year head coach Terry Posey has the Raiders rolling in the right direction. They are 17-7 on the year, the most wins for the program since the 2015-16 campaign when Navarre won 17 games as well. Not bad for a team that won just three games last year.

But making the regional tournament may require winning the district tournament title. The Raiders get a bye in the opening round and play either Milton or Crestview next Friday night in Crestview at 7:30 p.m. They are ranked 10th in the latest 6A playoff poll and need to find their way into the top eight. A district title would give them an automatic berth. A runner-up finish could potentially open the door for a tourney bid.

Brian Out Loud!

In this week’s column I take a look at Kobe Bryant’s tragic death. Coming up in the Feb. 13 issue, my column focuses on the FHSAA potentially approving a rule that would put more weight on head-to-head matchups in the football playoff poll if teams are ranked next to each other in it. If that had been the case last season, the Raiders, who finished ninth, would have flipped spots with Crestview, which finished eighth but lost its season finale 52-14 to Navarre.

This Day in Sports History

On Feb. 7, 1893, Vanderbilt claims it plays the first organized college basketball game in history at the Nashville YMCA Gymnasium. Vanderbilt wins it 9-3 over the YMCA. Also, on this date in 1949, Joe DiMaggio becomes the first New York Yankees player to make $100,000 a year.

Follow on Twitter: @BLester1993 and @navarresports

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