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Andrew Jackson Tigers hopes to capture first state title in almost 30 years

"That's the only thing I'm focused on right now, " Michael Swift said. "These next two weeks are the biggest two weeks of my life. We've got to win."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Andrew Jackson Tigers are on the prowl for a state title

Thursday night, the Andrew Jackson Tigers boys’ basketball team will tip-off what they're hoping will be a playoff run that will conclude with them winning a state championship.  

The Tigers have been in contention the last few years, but they have not won it all since 1993. Finishing the mission is goal for this year's squad.  

"I feel like we're getting closer and closer every time. We've just got to capitalize," player Stephon Payne said.

In the last three years, the Tigers have come close. They've advanced to three straight final fours and played in two of the last three state championship games, only to return home without the state championship trophy.

"That's all I want; that's the only thing I'm focused on right now, " player Michael Swift said. "These next two weeks are the biggest two weeks of my life. We've got to win."

"Scoring. We've got down there and had too many pockets in the game when we've gone cold on the offensive end of the floor," Head Coach and Andrew Jackson alum James Collins added. "Our defense is there but to separate from teams you've got to put points on the board."

Collins, who was a member of the last team that won a state championship at the school, believes this year's squad has what it takes to cut down the nets. 

"This team definitely has that it factors. We have guards and bigs. We can play every type of ball," Collins explained. "They've got all of the qualities it just whether we can put it all together and win it."

Winning it all is something this coach and these players so desperately want to do.

"It would mean a whole lot because this is my home, this is my blood line.  I came back to help my school because I love my school," Collins said. "It would just be a tremendous feeling to get a state championship as a player and coach. It would be even better because these players have put in the work to do it."

"It would mean everything," player Kevin Odom added. "It would just take my career to the next level, and I'd get to leave my mark on this school forever."

 Andrew Jackson will begin its quest for the state title at home Thursday night at 7 p.m. against Marianna. 


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