Niceville Winter Break Sports Update

Niceville Winter Break Sports Update

We take advantage of the Winter Break Stoppage in play to recap the winter sports season so far.

Niceville’s winter sports teams have made it to the halfway mark in their seasons – and most of them are still in contention for postseason play. The Niceville High School Girls’ and Boys’ Soccer sides are strongest among those teams – who’ve posted overwhelmingly positive records going into the winter break.

Niceville’s Girls Basketball Team has asserted itself on the courts as well. The Eagles have an undefeated district record and have wins over postseason contenders.

So, without further ado – let’s get into the recap.

Niceville High School

The Eagles Boys Basketball Team has faced ups and downs as it made its way to the winter break. The team started the season with an eight-point win over in-city rivals Rocky Bayou Christian. The Rocky Knights will host the Eagles after winter break and hope to avenge their season-opener loss to the Eagles.

The Eagles took their biggest win in South Walton against the South Walton Seahawks in a 50-43 contest. Junior Jackson Kowal led the Eagles with 16 points in that contest. Kowal was 4-4 from behind the three-point line and had two assists in the game.

Conversely, the Eagles took a tough loss at home against a roaring Milton Panthers (11-1) team. Milton has yet to lose to an in-state opponent and has outscored their opponents 734 to 468 in 2023.

Fred Libby and Anwar Conley lead the scoring in most games for the Eagles. Libby averages 10.6 per game and Conley adds another ten on a typical night.

The Eagles will host their first game of the year on January 2 against the Navarre Raiders (5-7).

The Niceville Girls Basketball team is in a dead heat, with the Niceville Girls Soccer team for the best start to their respective season this year of any team in the Mid-Bay area. 

MaxPreps ranks the Eagles #2 in the Panama City Metro Area – behind only the team they’ve lost to three times: Booker T. Washington (11-0). The Washington Wildcats are considered Florida’s Best 5A team and have played Niceville. The three contests – including the Eagles’ last one before winter break saw Washington muscle out progressively closer wins against Niceville. Still, the most brutal loss for the Eagles was a game they dropped against Fort Walton Beach. The Vikings (7-4) beat the Eagles 43-36. 

Despite the losses, Niceville holds an undefeated record against its district opponents and looks to make the postseason, should their form hold. 

In addition to that undefeated record – Niceville also has a dominant quality win over Ponce de Leon (10-1) whom Maxpreps rates as the #39 team in the state. The seven-point win has also buoyed their chances to play after the regular season has ended. 

If they are to make it to the postseason, Anna Kimball – a Rollins College Commit – will need to continue her 13.4 points per game average for the Eagles, which is assisted by an average of another 11.8 points from Sophomore Carson Fayard. 

The Eagles will travel to Santa Rosa Beach to open their Post-New-Year schedule against the South Walton Seahawks (6-4) on January 5. 

The Niceville Boys Soccer Team has continued its legacy of excellence against the field despite some hang-ups with their home field at Twin Oaks Park.

The Eagles boast an 8-2-1 record against some of the toughest teams in the panhandle. They defeated a 3-6-3 Mosley team 6-0 at the beginning of the campaign. Their two losses come against an undefeated Arnold team, which looks like a state title contender in 5A, and against a Gulf Breeze team, which is ranked #2 in the state in Class 6A. Niceville lost to the Dolphins in Gulf Breeze 1-0. 

Senior Grant Wheeler leads the team in scoring; he averages one goal per game on the year. Goalie Tanner Boxberger has six clean sheets on the year and has a goals-against-average rating under one per game. 

The Eagles will hit the ground running in 2024. They have three games in two days on January 4-5 against Wakulla, Clinton and FSU High School. 

 

Niceville Girls Soccer may be the best winter sports ticket in town. The team has a 10-1-3 record and the #4 ranking in Class 6A. 

The Eagles defeated a now (7-1) Lincoln Trojan team in dominant fashion – sending three unanswered goals into the net before the final whistle blew. They also have a draw with a #5 Chiles team in Tallahassee. 

Jezlyn Nelson, Kate Tomaschko, and company will visit Gulf Breeze on January 10 to kick off the 2024 portion of their regular season campaign. 

Rocky Bayou Christian School

Rocky Bayou’s Boys Basketball Team kept it close with their much bigger rival, Niceville, in their season opener at the Eagles’ Court. The 58-50 final means the Rocky Bayou team will feel more than capable of handling business on their home court January 23. 

Before that matchup – the Knights will need to take care of business against several teams they’ve played closely, including a PCA team they beat by a single point in overtime earlier in December. 

The Knights will rely on guard Devin Hicks to continue his point generation for the team. Hicks has 22.8 points per game and also leads the team in assists. 

If Calix McCune can continue shooting well from behind the three-point arc, Rocky Bayou will serve as a stumbling block for all of the teams left on their schedule. 

The Rocky Bayou Girls Basketball Team earned a quality win against the Franklin County Eagles (8-4) earlier in the year, 31-28, and have continued on their winning ways. High School Heisman School Finalist Senior Sydney Athearn leads the team as they begin the second half of their year at the top of the district leaderboard. 

They will open up 2024 with a home game against Destin High School at 2pm on January 5. 

The Rocky Bayou Boys Soccer Team has taken its lumps, but has emerged at the top of the pile in their district – and look likely to make the playoffs should the pattern persist through 2024. The Knights have a 3-1 record in their district, which includes a quality 3-1 win over Community Christian (5-1-1).

If they want to succeed in the postseason, they will have to find and fix the mistakes they made in their 5-0 loss to the Crestview Bulldogs. A marker of their progress toward that goal: the 4-1 loss the Knights had at the hands of the Bulldogs on the return leg of their derby against Crestview. Three-goal losses, especially with a goal of your own, are loads better than 5-0 losses.

Rocky will visit Destin High School to start the 2024 portion of their soccer campaign. The Sharks will kick off against the Knights on January 8 at 7:00 PM.

Niceville Girls Soccer may be the best winter sports ticket in town. The team has a 10-1-3 record and the #4 ranking in Class 6A. 

The Eagles defeated a now (7-1) Lincoln Trojan team in dominant fashion – sending three unanswered goals into the net before the final whistle blew. They also have a draw with a #5 Chiles team in Tallahassee. 

Jezlyn Nelson, Kate Tomaschko, and company will visit Gulf Breeze on January 10 to kick off the 2024 portion of their regular season campaign. 

Northwest Florida State College

In an intense matchup between No. 5 Northwest Florida State and No. 20 Eastern Florida, the Raiders secured a hard-fought 62-60 victory, marking their 14th win of the season. Tavion Banks and Jamal Sumlin delivered crucial late-game heroics to seal the win. Despite similar shooting percentages, the Raiders dominated the boards, securing more second-chance points.

The Raiders’ starters, led by Tajuan Simpkins with 17 points, powered the victory. Jamal Sumlin contributed 12 points, achieving double digits for the second consecutive game. The triumph, NWF’s third against top-25 opponents, elevated their record to 14-1. The team will enjoy a break before facing Calhoun College on December 30.

The first half saw back-and-forth action, with the Raiders leading 27-23 at halftime. In the second half, both teams exchanged leads until Tavion Banks’ crucial three-pointer and Sumlin’s free throws secured the narrow win. The Raiders successfully defended against a last-second attempt by Eastern Florida.

The Raiders, now 14-1, will resume play on December 30 and 31 against Calhoun and Georgia Highlands. They will return to Raider Arena on January 6 for a matchup against Southern Mississippi before entering Conference play on January 13 against Chipola.

Northwest Florida State women’s basketball remains undefeated at 13-0 after a commanding 67-28 victory over Columbia State. The Raiders displayed an impressive offensive performance with four players – Destiney McPhaul, Jaela Davis, Deborah Davenport, and Mekhia Chase – scoring in double digits. McPhaul achieved her 11th double-digit scoring game of the season.
Defensively, the Raiders limited Columbia State to eight points or fewer in each quarter. They also excelled in shooting, boasting a 44.1% overall percentage, a 30.8% success rate from three-point range, and an outstanding 91.1% free throw accuracy, marking their best performance from the charity stripe this season.
On the rebounding front, NWF secured 26 rebounds, with Deborah Davenport leading with seven boards and contributing three of the team’s five blocks in the game. This victory extends NWF’s winning streak to 17 games, dating back to the previous season, solidifying their position as the top team in the nation.
The Raiders will enjoy a two-week break for the holidays before resuming play on December 29 and 30 against Florida State College-Jacksonville and Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., concluding their successful 2023 year.

They will open up 2024 with a home game against Destin High School at 2pm on January 5. 

Christopher Saul

Christopher Saul

Christopher Saul is the publisher of Mid Bay News. He graduated from Southern Methodist University's School of Journalism with a Convergance Journalism Degree and a Master's Degree in Public Administration From Florida State.

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