High School 9:12 bringing lacrosse to the forefront with 16-team tournament

Several high school lacrosse coaches pose on Tuesday after the announcement of the Rivalry on the River tournament next month. (News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – High School 9:12 is expanding its sports tournament platform and adding lacrosse to its lineup.

The organization announced on Tuesday that it would put on the Rivalry on the River next month at Episcopal. The field includes 10 boys teams and six girls teams.

All games will be streamed on News4Jax.com and its mobile app. The final four games on Saturday will be televised live on CW17 and broadcast on 1010XL radio.

High School 9:12 made the announcement during its annual all-sports media day.

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Coach Jennifer Shields, Piper Young and Kayla Robinson during High School 9:12 media day at the Riverside YMCA.

“You’ve just seen the whole sport over the last decade really transform into one of the best sports in our city,” said Alan Verlander, executive director of High School 9:12.

“Like all of our other events that we do in high school we really want to showcase our best and brightest and so we decided to do that on the boys and girls side this year, which is a first for us.”

The move into lacrosse expands the 9:12 tournament brand even further and provides marquee matchups in regular season games. Some of the state’s best programs play in St. Johns County and those teams headline the first event.

The Ponte Vedra and Bartram Trail girls play at noon on March 27, and the Ponte Vedra and Creekside boys face off in the finale of the event that day. The Sharks boys went 24-1 during the last full lacrosse season in 2019 and won their first ever state championship. They were also the No. 1-ranked team in the country.

“I think it’s great for the growth of the sport,” said Sharks boys coach Tom West. “It’s just great when you don’t have to leave the state or leave the area to play some of the best teams. When the best teams are in the area it’s only going to be better for everybody. Iron sharpens iron. And I think if all these teams are in this area then you’re just going to have all these competitive games and it’s just going to be the best.”

The Baseball Classic at Sans Souci Park just wrapped up its third installment earlier this month. The Fortegra Invitational basketball event last December was also the third. High School 9:12 is also involved with the Bold City Showcase football event, too. The third installment of the Bold City brand scheduled for Aug. 22 was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tickets for the event are $10 per day or $80 for VIP entry, tickets for all games, as well as food and drinks.

“As THE local station, our team at Channel 4 and CW17 is proud to partner with High School 9:12 in broadcasting these championship caliber events,” said Bob Ellis, general manager of the Graham Media Group in Jacksonville. “We look forward to a great weekend of lacrosse and introducing our community to these talented student-athletes.”

Rivalry on the River schedule

At Episcopal

Thursday, March 25

Creekside vs. Bolles (girls), 5:30 p.m.

St. Augustine vs. Nease, 8 p.m.

Friday, March 26

Menendez vs. Bolles, 5:30 p.m.

Bartram Trail vs. Fleming Island, 8 p.m.

Saturday, March 27

Bartram Trail vs. Ponte Vedra (girls), noon

Episcopal vs. St. Augustine (girls), 2 p.m.

Providence vs. Episcopal, 4 p.m.

Creekside vs. Ponte Vedra, 6:30 p.m.

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