Rams basketball teams look forward to postseason
Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 2:52 p.m.
The Eastside High School boys and girls basketball teams are winding down regular season play with high hopes for the post season.
What: Eastside High School Rams boys basketball team against Gainesville High School.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Where: Santa Fe College gymnasium.
Information: Call 352-955-6704.
The boys will play rival Gainesville High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Santa Fe College before finishing their regular season schedule with away games at P.K. Yonge Saturday, Belleview on Jan. 24 and St. Francis on Jan. 31 and at home against North Marion (Senior Night) Jan. 26 and GHS again on Feb. 3 at Santa Fe College. The Rams (14-3, 3-1 as of Monday) will play in the District 6-5A championship tournament at North Marion on Feb. 7-10.
The girls finish their regular season with away games at North Marion Thursday, GHS on Jan. 24, and Leesburg on Jan. 26. The Lady Rams (8-11, 2-2 as of Monday) will play in the District 6-5A championship tournament at North Marion beginning Jan. 31-Feb. 3.
All regular season games begin at 7:30 p.m.
Coach Herman "Pop" Williams is in his 15th season as the coach of the Rams. He said he expects a tough game against GHS even though the Purple Hurricanes lost its star player, Isaiah Jackson, for the season with a broken leg in a game last Friday night against Buchholz High School.
Williams said this team reminds him of his 2006 Class 5A state championship team because it plays defense very well. He said if the team can make outside shots more consistently and get better at the free-throw line, they can go a long way. He also said if starters sophomore Barry Johnson and freshman Eric Turner get 100 percent healthy, his team can be even better.
The Rams played in the MLK Classic last weekend at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville and came away with impressive victories over Jacksonville Jackson and a previously unbeaten Jacksonville Terry Parker.
The Rams beat Terry Parker 51-37 with excellent free-throw shooting at the end of the game. According to a story published on Jacksonville.com, the Rams did not score from the field in the final four minutes, but made 14 of 19 free throws in that span, and nine straight at one point.
Coach Ash'lea Moore is in her third season with the Lady Rams.
She said she has a young team this year that is gaining valuable experience from the games they have played so far. She said her team is going to get better with each game, and even better as the players gain more confidence.
"Our effort has to be more consistent and we have to increase the intensity with which we play with," Moore said.
She said juniors Tiara Lundy and Jurnee Pettigrew are the leaders of the team, although they are growing into their roles as leaders because in the past they had other players to turn to to make plays in crunch time.
She said Pettigrew is her "do-it-all" player, and plays all five positions on the court.
"She is kind of my chameleon," Moore said.
She said Lundy's strength is "her ability to score by any means necessary."
Palatka has been the Lady Rams' nemesis in district play this season, but after losing to the Panthers by 36 on Dec. 13 in Palatka, the Rams lost to the Panthers by only 11 last Thursday at home.
Moore said if her team plays up to their potential, they have a good chance of getting past Palatka in the district tournament.
"The race is between us and Palatka," Moore said. "The bright side is we haven't played our best game yet."