The Lead In
Few teams in the area have played better basketball than Navarre at the moment. The Raiders have rattled off 10 consecutive wins, which has translated into a school record for wins (18) in a season.
Navarre now begins its quest for a District 1-6A tournament title tonight with a 7:30 p.m. semifinal game against Milton in Crestview.
The Raiders are seeking their first district crown in program history. They have been the runner-up three times.
A three-win team a year ago, the Raiders have shifted momentum in their favor in a big way. A win tonight puts them in the title game for the first time since 2017 against either Tate or Niceville Saturday in Crestview. Tip-off for that one is 7 p.m.
Navarre head coach Terry Posey, who has coached more than 30 years and in his second year with the Raiders, said the success is a credit to the players.
“It goes back to the kids. Their hard work and dedication has paid off, and they have all bought in,” Posey said. “They put a lot of time in the gym, the weight room and the offseason. It’s worked out well.”
Posey said his team just has to take it one game at a time and see how the chips fall. The Raiders sit in 10th in the Region 1-6A playoff poll and likely need to at least finish as the district runner-up to have a shot at getting into the top eight and making the playoffs. They have an RPI of 6.189.
Senior Joe Sczesny is thrilled about how this season has played out but has bigger goals in mind.
“We have a bigger picture we are looking at, which is district champs and state champs, but we gotta go one step at a time,” Sczesny said. “This (winning streak) was a great step for us mentally.”
On the verge of the Elite Eight
Navarre’s girls soccer team battled through a thick fog in its regional tourney opener Tuesday night at Bennett C. Russell Stadium to knock off Fleming Island 4-1 and advance to its first regional semifinal since 2018.
Winners of their last seven games, the Raiders now turn their attention to Chiles in a 7 p.m. EST showdown at Chiles High School in Tallahassee. Chiles needed penalty kicks to pull out its win over Fletcher Tuesday.
The second-seeded Raiders and third-seeded Timberwolves have already played once this season, with the Raiders coming away with a 2-1 win back in November in Navarre.
The winner tonight moves on to the Elite Eight Tuesday night against either top-seeded Creekside or fifth-seeded Lincoln at the site of the higher remaining seed.
Navarre is seeking its first trip to the regional final since 2015 when it advanced all the way to the state final four.
Time for State
This girls weightlifting season has been, in many ways, a redemption tour for the Raiders. Navarre finished seventh at state last year, stopping its streak of championships at four, but it is seeking its sixth title in eight years this weekend when they head to state at Panama City Arnold. The meet begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
Navarre has dominated the competition along the way this year, including recording dominant wins in both the district and regional meets as they came away with titles in both. They now aim to put an exclamation point on the tour with a championship Saturday.
The Raiders certainly have a shot to get it done as they are taking school-record 19 competitors to state and seven are ranked among the top five in their respective weight classes. The entire list of qualifiers can be found here.
Navarre’s softball played a pair of preseason games last Tuesday at the Preston Hood Complex in Fort Walton Beach and came away with a pair of wins. The Raiders rolled over Choctaw 10-2 and then capped the night with an 8-2 win over Milton.
The Raiders begin their real season Wednesday against Fort Walton Beach on the road. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
The baseball team played a preseason game against Gulf Breeze Thursday night and fell 7-5. The Raiders play Milton tonight at 7 p.m. and then open the regular season Thursday night at Pace in a 7 p.m. game.
College Baseball Anyone?
Blue Wahoos Stadium is hosting a three-game series between Oklahoma and Virginia this weekend, starting with tonight’s 6 p.m. game. The Sooners and Cavaliers play again Saturday at 4 p.m. and wrap up the series Sunday with an 11 a.m. game.
Brian Out Loud!
This week’s column takes a look at the potential of instituting a rule where teams can flip spots in the final football rankings if they are side-by-side and the lower-ranked team beat the team above it during the regular season. The FHSAA has a chance to approve it in April. It’s a rule that needs to be employed. Now we just need to see a playoff ranking formula where a team’s own winning percentage carries the most weight.
Lacrosse is the newest sport at Navarre High School and the girls team will play its first game in school history on Wednesday night when it takes on Washington at NYSA. Game time is 6 p.m. The boys lacrosse makes its debut Feb. 25 at Fort Walton Beach in a 7:30 p.m. game.
This Day in Sports History
On Feb. 14, 1971, Richard Petty wins the Daytona 500 for the third time in his career and goes on to win the first Winston Cup title in NASCAR history. Also on this date in 1987, a game between the Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers draws a crowd of 53,745 at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit. The third-largest crowd in NBA history watches as the Pistons take out the 76ers 125-107.
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