Lady Rams look to build on this season

Senior Jurnee Pettigrew will be leaving the Eastside High School Lady Rams basketball team this year.

LEE FERINDEN/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 1:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 1:43 p.m.

The Eastside Lady Rams basketball team will enter the off season fueled with a desire to go further next year than it did this year under the leadership of coach Lance Radford, who recently completed his first year at the helm of the Lady Rams' basketball program.

Radford, a math teacher at Eastside, said his returning players understand that it will be up to them to get better in the off season and they are hungry to do so after exceeding the expectations of a lot of pundits.

The Rams, who finished the season 13-12, made it to the District 6-5A championship game two week ago against Palatka, losing that game on its home court by a score of 35-30.

As district runners-up, the team still advanced to the state playoffs and won a first-round game 42-37 on the road Feb. 7 against District 5-5A champion Creekside in St. Johns County.

The team's season finally came to an end last Tuesday on the road against Bartram Trail with a 59-45 loss in the second round of the state playoffs.

"I told them at the end of the season that I don't think people expected a lot of us, and making the playoffs shocked a lot of people," Radford said.

He said it was hard to pinpoint any one moment that stood out as the highlight of the season, but he said the way the players maintained a positive attitude throughout the season was a joy to watch.

He said although the team went through a tough stretch during and after the Christmas break, players kept coming to practice with a strong desire to get better and learn his system, which is based on being strong defensively and unselfish offensively.

Radford said he will depend on sophomore A'nikeyawna (KeeKee) Barber, a skilled ball handler, defender and scorer, to lead the team during off season drills. He also said he expects junior swing player Aprella Ford, who missed this season with a leg injury, to help Barber with leading the team during those drills, which will consist of him working with the players on the fundamental skills of the game and the team playing in various summer tournaments.

He said playing in the tournaments is going to be a crucial part of preparing for next season because it is going to give the returning players a chance to build team chemistry because they will be learning how to play without departing seniors Tiara Lundy and Jurnee Pettigrew, the leaders of this year's team.

Radford said winning a first-round game in the state playoffs this year has given the returning players a hunger to go further next year.

"They felt how close they came to being a part of something really special and unexpected this year," he said. "I can tell they want to go further next year and they know they can do that if they come in the gym in the off season and put in the work. They know the gym will be open and they know I will be there to work with them."

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top