Eastside girls get ready for last district, regular games


Rams coach Ash’lea Moore with a Rams player.

LAUREN JOOS/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 7:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 7:21 p.m.

The Eastside Lady Rams basketball team won one of two games last Friday and Saturday at the Rob Moramarco's Girls Basketball Challenge at Buchholz High School.

The Rams (10-6 overall and 5-2 in District 5-4A) lost to the Haines City Hornets, 54-47, last Friday night before defeating Florida A&M High School, 59-44, Saturday.

The Rams were led last Friday by 15 points from sophomore point guard Tiara Lundy and eight points each from seniors Ashlee Bryant and Lonna Turner. Sisters senior Whitney Dollison and sophomore Courtney Dollison chipped in seven and four points, respectively.

The Rams jumped out early on Haines City (14-1), taking a 12-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. They went into halftime with a 27-20 lead. The Hornets came alive in the third quarter and scored 18 points, just two points less than they did in the first and second quarters combined. The Hornets went into the fourth quarter still trailing Eastside 40-38 before outscoring the Rams 16-7 in the fourth quarter to win the game.

The Rams bounced back last Saturday against FAMU High with strong performances from Whitney Dollison (21 points and 11 assists), Bryant (24 points) and Turner (11 rebounds and six points). The difference in the game came in the second quarter when Eastside outscored FAMU High 17-4.

Eastside has only one district game left — 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at Dunnellon — and only one home game out of six remaining on its regular schedule, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24 against Gainesville High.

Eastside second-year coach Ash'lea Moore said the schedule can work in her team's favor heading into the district tournament Feb. 1-5 at Ocala Vanguard. She said because her team has played basically its entire district schedule, it has more time to prepare for the challenges those teams pose to the Rams heading into the post season.

She also said playing against tough teams down the stretch like GHS, Buchholz and perennial power and defending Class 2A state champion P.K. Yonge can only make her team better heading into the district tournament.

With a win over Dunnellon, the Rams can wrap up a No. 2 seed in the district tournament, meaning they wouldn't have to play district leader Leesburg until the championship round. The Rams have lost to Leesburg twice this season, 71-40 in November and 46-43 Jan. 4, but Moore said she is confident her team can beat anybody if they play focused for four quarters.

"We must play whole games, putting together four quarters with the same intensity on a consistent basis," said Moore, stressing that if her team plays consistently with a keen mental focus, they will be hard to beat. "We can't get up on teams and lose focus, and when we get down to teams, we have to stay focused and chip away at the lead."

She said the strength of her team is the leadership provided by Bryant, Turner and Whitney Dollison, all of whom have played varsity at least three years. She said the team is also dangerous because it can get at least 10 points on any given night from more than three players.

"That makes it hard to prepare for us when you don't know who is going to be the top scorer on any given night," she said.

Moore returned to the theme of "mental consistency" when asked how far the Lady Rams can go in the post season.

"If they get the mental consistency together, they can go real deep into the playoffs," Moore said. "If they stay focused for a whole game, they are hard to beat, if they can be beat."

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