All-County Basketball Player Profiles
The Palatka High School junior makes the All-County team for the first time, having a big year from the shooting guard position. He averaged 12.7 points per game, along with 2.6 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 2.1 steals per contest. Thomas shot 86 percent from the free-throw line and was a 37-percent shooter from the 3-point arc.
“Tyrius came on late in the year for us,” Palatka coach Donald Lockhart said. “He started increasing his 3-point percentage toward the end of the year. He was remarkable in getting out into the lane and he did hit some big shots for us when we needed them. Next season, his role is going to be more expanded as we’re going to move him more toward the point guard position.”
Once he settled into the position, the Crescent City Junior-Senior junior took off as point guard. Easily handling both the point and shooting guard roles, Johnson scored at a clip of 8.5 points a game, while handing out 2.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds per contest. During the postseason, Johnson was at his best, averaging 15.5 points over four games, collecting a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds against Frostproof, 16 points, eight rebounds and five steals in a blowout win of Dixie County and 15 points and six rebounds in the regional final loss in overtime to Bell.
“He wasn’t getting done what we wanted him to get done,” Crescent City coach Al Carter said. “For a while, I had to decide between either Victor or Reggie Robinson at point guard. But then he started to get things done, including getting back on defense and he was one of those kids who became a great rebounder. Victor is a very coachable kid who’s always looking to get better.”
Getting the chance to run the Interlachen High offense this year, the junior point guard thrived, averaging 9.8 points a game along with 1.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game. The quintessential leader from his position, Sanchez will be best remembered for his game-winning shot against District 4-4A rival Bradford in Starke, a 3-point shot with 12 seconds left that lifted the Rams to a 60-59 victory and the district regular-season title as well as the program’s first state tournament bid in eight seasons.
“He’s very energetic,” Rams coach C.S. Belton said. “He has a battery that keeps on going. He’s so small (5-foot-6), and he just goes on and on and doesn’t really bow down to bigger guys. Edwin’s a competitor and one really tough kid. He’s just great to have. Next year, he’s going to be more of a leader, not just by his style of play, but being vocal to the team and letting the others know we have to do it a certain way.”
The fulltime point guard for Palatka High, the sophomore came into his own this season, averaging 12.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.3 steals per game. He hit nearly 47 percent from the field and 29 percent from the 3-point arc.
“One thing you’ve got to know about Chamar is he hates to lose,” Lockhart said. “He likes to be the one to take the big shot. I’m looking for him to show more leadership ability and to raise his free-throw percentage. If he can increase his load and give us more points a game, we will get better. He’s very unselfish and because of that, half of his turnovers are from him trying to unselfish things. I look for him to take charge more with the ball.”
The fifth rookie to the All-County team is true big man Purifoy. The 6-3 junior forward averaged just 7.2 points a game, but was able to go for over eight rebounds a contest, while handing out 1.3 assists and coming up with 1.1 steals per game. It’s his defensive prowess that Lockhart is proudest of.
“He led us in taking charges,” Lockhart said. “I believe he had 14 charges taken this year. He was the type of guy that can hit those shots underneath the basket from 3 to 5 feet. He gave us a little more energy and the presence we needed inside. His role will expand next year as we will need more scoring and rebounding from him.”