Eastside takes top spot in area hoops tourney


Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

The seeds for next week's boys basketball District of Doom tournament have been finalized.

Defending state champion Eastside (10-2 in district play) will hold 4-5A's top seed with Gainesville (10-2), Columbia (9-3) and dangerous Leesburg (7-5) filling out the top-4. Ocala Vanguard (4-8), Lake Weir (2-10) and host Ocala Forest (0-12) complete the field.

The Rams earned the top seed over the Hurricanes by virtue of having a better record against the third-seeded Tigers (2-0) than GHS (1-1) did.

Second-ranked Eastside will have a first-round bye and will face the winner of Leesburg-Vanguard in a semifinal on Friday, Feb. 9. Eighth-ranked GHS will play Forest, and seventh-ranked Columbia will meet Lake Weir in first-round games, and those winners will square off, also on Friday.

The final will take place one night later.

The favorites look like Eastside, GHS and Columbia, but don't count out Leesburg, which beat the Rams, 71-60, and had a double-digit lead on the Hurricanes in the fourth quarter before falling last week.

Only the top two finishers of each district tournament reach the FHSAA playoffs, so there is a very good possibility at least one team ranked in next week's Class 5A state poll won't make the postseason.

Bell ringing

One of the area's biggest boys basketball turnarounds has happened at Bell.

After winning just three games in 2005-06, the Bulldogs are 12-8, and got a nice 80-74 victory last week against St. Francis.

In that game, Bell showed great balance, as Tyson Railey, Trent Shepherd, Brandon Ridgeway and David Bailey all scored in double figures for first-year coach Chuck Mehl.

Defending No. 1

The P.K. Yonge boys basketball team has been ranked No. 1 in the area all year long, but they will have that ranking tested this week.

On Tuesday night the Blue Wave, also ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, will travel to area No. 3 GHS and on Thursday night will visit area No. 2 Eastside.

Both games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. starts, but it is recommended you arrive early for each.

P.K. Yonge coach Mark Griseck and Hurricanes' coach Tony Wise are good friends, and look for Griseck to grill Wise for some information on Sunday. That's because on Saturday, GHS will travel to Florida Air Academy, the only other team besides the Blue Wave to be ranked No. 1 in the 3A state poll this year.

A Florida Air-P.K. Yonge showdown may be inevitable at the final four in Lakeland. The two met in the preseason, and the host Blue Wave won a squeaker.

John Patton is The Sun's high school sports editor. Contact him at 374-5074 or pattonj@gvillesun.com.

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