Eastside boys face Hawthorne Friday after losing to P.K. Yonge


Devin Wilson of P.K. Yonge High School reaches for the ball as Kwann Nichols of Eastside heads towards the basket at the end of the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s game at P.K. Yonge.

BRANDON KRUSE/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 3:47 p.m.

The Eastside High School boys basketball team is concluding a season that has been more successful than the experts predicted.

And the squad’s only senior believes the team has a lot of basketball left to play.

Before the Rams played at P.K. Yonge on last Saturday night, a game in which they lost 67-59 in front of a packed house, Kwamane “Kool” Nichols took a few minutes to reflect on his senior season and to share his views on how Dante Anderson, his team member who died last year in a car accident, would feel about this year’s Rams basketball team.

Eastside will play its last regular season game at 7:30 Friday night at Eastside against Hawthorne High School.

“I think Dante would be proud that we have done this well as a team,” Nichols said. “If we win districts, I know he would be even more proud. And if we go on and win state, I know he would be even that much more proud. We just have to take it one game at a time.”

Eastside Head Coach Herman “Pop” Williams said this season has been difficult for his only senior, but he said he is proud of the way Nichols has handled himself.

“Kool teaches the younger guys a lot of things about doing things the right way,” Williams said. “He has put a lot of pressure on himself to lead this team. He is the best defender on the team, and if you watch him on defense, he is always working. Just look at him, even against bigger opponents, he is always bodying up and playing tough defense. He is a tremendous competitor.”

Williams also shared his thoughts on how Dante would have viewed this team.

“He would have been very pleased with the effort that these players have given this season,” Williams said. “He would have been even more pleased that after losing to GHS the first time, that we came back and beat them the second time.”

Williams said the Rams had to forfeit the win against the Gainesville High School Hurricanes because of the use of an ineligible player, and he said that may have caused the Rams the No. 1 seed in District 4-5A tournament play, which runs Tuesday-Saturday, Feb. 9, at Leesburg High School.

Williams said he is confident his team, 12-8 overall and 7-3 in the district, will perform well during the district tournament.

“When we won state two years ago, we were seeded third in the district tournament,” Williams said. “We have beaten every team in the district this year, and we are one of the best teams in the district. We have played a tough schedule that includes one of the best teams in Georgia and several top-notch teams from around the state Florida.”

“It is almost time for districts, and I have confidence in my players. We will be ready. Our younger guys have played a lot of minutes, and I know they will not be intimidated. We will play our game, and we will play hard. One thing is for certain. I don’t care what happens from here on out, I am extremely proud of this team. They have exceeded all of my expectations, and I can't tell you enough about how proud I am of this team. These are genuinely good guys, and I mean that.”

In the game against P.K. Yonge, the Rams didn’t look as sharp as they did against GHS a week earlier. Though they played hard and with a lot of intensity on the defensive end of the floor, the offense was not fluid. Passes were not crisp and deliberate and players were not moving efficiently without the ball.

On the other hand, P.K. Yonge, led by Josh Snodgrass, looked like semi-pros. Passes were crisp and deliberate and players moved without the ball continuously, hitting 3-pointers at will.

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