Eastside surges ahead in 2nd half


Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Eastside capitalized on a hot second half Tuesday to jump to the top of District 4-5A with a 65-59 victory over visiting Columbia.

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Eastside senior Brandon Darling goes up for a layup in the third quarter

OCTAVIAN CANTILLI/Special to The Sun

"(Columbia) came out ready to play, and we came out flat" said Rams coach Pop Williams, whose squad has won nine of its last ten games. "We regrouped (at halftime) and came out with some things they hadn't seen."

One thing the Tigers, and every other Eastside opponent this year, had seen was Dante Anderson. The junior guard ended the night with 32 points, 16 of which came in the third quarter. Anderson also led the Rams (13-3, 6-1 in district) with seven rebounds.

After trailing 13-10 at the end of the first quarter, Jakeem Hill came on strong for the Tigers (15-4, 5-2). Hill scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the first half to lead Columbia to a 26-23 halftime lead. Hill would end the game with 23 points and nine rebounds, both team highs.

Both teams came out strong in the second half. Anderson's third quarter output, despite three first-half fouls, was part of a 23-point period for the Rams that matched the team's first half output. The Tigers added 22 points of their own to keep pace and hold a 48-46 lead heading into the final quarter.

Anderson started the fourth with a three pointer, his fourth straight, to begin a 10-0 run that would put Eastside up for good. The Tigers would get within two points with 31 seconds to play, but Anderson would strike again.

Connecting on two free throws to extend the lead to four, Anderson stole the ball in transition and started a wide open fast break that ended in a thunderous slam that would seal the Eastside win.

"We had to come and get this win so that we can be top seed," said Anderson, who fell three points shy of his season high of 35. "Districts are going to be hard, playing at (Ocala) Forest. Neither team is going to be home, so it's going to be kind of hard to beat Columbia a third time."

With the win, Eastside earns a regular-season sweep of Columbia and breaks a three-way tie atop the district between the Rams, Tigers and Gainesville High.

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