Exclusive to the Lehigh Acers Gazette By Dick Allan (Click here to see other photos)
The only words that could describe the ending to the Region 6A-3 Florida state boys’ basketball tournament - shocking!
The only words that could be used to describe the ending to Lehigh Senior High School’s most promising basketball season ever - shocking!
Simply stated - shocking!
More than 200 students, parents, teachers, cheerleaders, and fans traveled north to Jefferson High School in Tampa to witness what was so many thought would be the last step to the final four – a trip to Lakeland – a state championship.
Hours earlier, in the parking lot were buses were loading students, faculty and fans who were making the three-hour trip north, the new Lehigh Lightning football coach (who was attending the game) James Chaney was asked what his early season focus and messages have been to his new team. Without hesitation he said “Finish – Finish your classes, Finish school. And finish on the field”. How prophetic these words would become just four and a half hours later …JUST FINISH!
It’s been four years since Dawn McNew took over the Lehigh Senior High boys’ basketball team.
And much has happened since then, in no small part to McNew.
The Lightning, who last won a District 6A-12 title in 2004, are currently 27-1, and heading to the regional finals in Tampa.
But McNew still believes in the Lightning, and the Lightning still believe in McNew.
“Hopefully we’ll do everything to carry this season as long as we can,” McNew said. “Short term, we win districts. Long term, we want to win our last game together. We’ll do everything in our power to see if we can get those two things accomplished.”
Special to the Lehigh Acres Gazette by Dick Allen (Click here to see other photos of the game)
Different team, the same ending. It looked like a replay of Lehigh’s Fab. Freshman
Emmitt Williams sending home the crowd into still another frenzy with a one-handed slam dunk (4 for the evening) in the closing seconds in putting the Charlotte Pirates away for good 68-51 last night.
The win, the 26th of the season for the Lehigh Lightning, moves them to the Regional Championship game, two wins away from the Florida State Title. “I think we can win states with the way we’re playing right now, “Williams said after the game. And perhaps rightly so as with 5:22 remaining in the first period he picked up his second foul and sat the rest of the half on the bench.
He watched as his teammates’ turned up the defense and scored 11 straight points closing out the first period as Deljuan Thomas and senior captain Abed Abu-Khadier caught fire. At the half it was 39 – 30, and Lehigh was not about to look back.
Lehigh showed spectacular offense and defensive play from every position especially from off the bench. Sophomore guard Stefan Srawder had 11 points, while Williams led the scoring with 19 points, 11 in the 4th quarter. Head Coach Dawn McNew praised team chemistry and the senior leadership of her point guard Abu-Khadier while echoing Srawder’s comment “We’ve got what it takes if we all show up and play.”
The Lightning will travel to play Jefferson High School in Tampa the winner over Newport Richey Mitchell H.S. 79-65 in the other semifinal game. The Region 6A-3 Championship will be decided this Saturday night in Tampa at 7 PM. The school is looking into a “fan” bus for the trip.
The Lehigh Acres Gazette will let you as soon as possible at that fan bus.
Special to the Lehigh Acres Gazette by Dick Allen (Click here to see photos of the game)
The 25-1 Lightning spanked Venice 68-52 in the Region 6A-3 Florida State Boys Basketball Regional quarterfinal held on Lehigh’s home court Thursday night.
The game was played to a standing room only crowd who were treated to what Lehigh Head Coach Dawn McNew termed as “It wasn’t our best game. The good thing is it’s a win”. But you couldn’t tell that to the screaming crowd as the victory was punctuated by Lehigh’s uncanny freshman, Emmitt Williams who took a pass off the backboard and smashed down a one-handed dunk. He had a total of four dunks for the evening, each of which jacked up the crowded sending them into a frenzy. Williams had 14 points along with 10 rebounds for the night. But it was Senior Captain Abed Abu-Khadier who led the Lightning in scoring with 23 points for the evening.
The captain, grinning from ear to ear after the game told the team in a stern voice, “There was more to do. We can do something that this school has never done before”, he said.
That something continues Tuesday night In the Regional semifinal matchup between Charlotte High School and the Lehigh Lightning. The game will tip off at 7 PM at the Rick Anglickis Athletic Complex at Lehigh Senior High School. Should the lightning pass this test, they will put their 26-1 record on the line in the regional championship final. The winner there goes to Lakeland to participate in the Boys Florida State Final Four Basketball Championships.
And that’s Navigating in unchartered waters!
Lehigh Senior Boys Basketball wins Regional Quarter Finals over Venice 68-52
Click Here to see photos
Emmitt Williams’ voice all most cracks with pride and enthusiasm when he talks about his coach, Dawn McNew. The Lehigh Senior H.S. freshman described her as “the real deal”. Demanding, no-nonsense yet empathetic. And the reason the Lightning are 16-0.
During McNew’s four years as head coach, she has led the team to a 62-30 record and to the Elite 8 last season. Now, she and her players have their eyes set on winning a state championship this year.
Williams and his teammates say McNew is like family. They all are. In fact, they repeat the word “family” in unison during huddles. McNew wants each player to feel like they have a support system. The team mutually provides as much to her.
When McNew’s late husband Dean passed away in July 2012, she considered not coaching anymore. The two coached together for several years, including before they moved to Florida in 2004.
Dean coached at Lehigh for nine years, including for the girls and boys basketball teams and was McNew’s volunteer assistant coach. He was also her assistant coach when McNew led the Beech Grove High (Ind.) girls’ basketball team to the 2003 state championship.
East Lee County 0 American Heritage 55 at East Lee County
Lehigh Senior 0 Port Charlotte 49 at Port Charlotte
Riverdale by week
East Lee County vs American Heritage at East Lee County 7:00 pm
Lehigh Senior vs Port Charlotte at Port Charlotte 7:30 pm
Riverdale by week
Ida S. Baker High School, 14 – Riverdale High School, 21 (Final)
Sarasota Riverview High School, 42 – Lehigh Senior High School, 34 (Final)
Bishop Verot Catholic High School, 34 – East Lee County, 13 (Final)
Dunbar High School, 7 – Riverdale High School, 14 (Final)
Lehigh Sr. High School, 36 – Estero High School, 29 (Final)
DeSoto County High School, 56 – East Lee County High School, 7 (Final)