Rams basketball teams gear up for season
Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 1:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 1:24 p.m.
The Eastside High School boys and girls basketball teams will try to go further this season than they did last year when both advanced to the second round of the state playoffs after finishing as runner ups in District 5-5A.
TBD: time to be determined.
Thursday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Tip-Off Classic at Eastside.
Nov. 29: 7:30 p.m. away at Jacksonville Shoot-Out.
Dec. 3: 7:30 p.m. at Union County.
Dec. 6: 7:30 p.m. at Lake Weir.
Dec. 10: 7:30 p.m. at Belleview.
Dec. 13: 7:30 p.m. at North Marion.
Dec. 14: 7:30 p.m. at Williston Shoot-Out.
Dec. 17: 7:30 p.m. vs. Lake Weir.
Dec. 26-27/Dec. 30: TBD at Hitchcock Challenge at Santa Fe High School.
Jan. 4: 8 p.m. at home in Dante Anderson Memorial Classic.
Jan. 7: 7:30 p.m. vs. Belleview.
Jan. 10: 7:30 p.m. vs. P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.
Jan. 13: 7:30 p.m. at Newberry.
Jan. 16: 7:30 p.m. vs. North Marion.
Jan. 17: 7:30 p.m. vs. GHS.
Jan. 18: TBD at MLK Classic in Jacksonville.
Jan. 21: 7:30 p.m. vs. Suwannee.
Jan. 22: 7:30 p.m. at Bradford.
Jan. 23: 7:30 p.m. vs. Newberry.
Jan. 28: 7:30 p.m. at Buchholz.
Jan. 31: 7:30 p.m. vs. GHS at Santa Fe College.
Feb. 1: 7:30 p.m. vs. Santa Fe.
Feb. 4/Feb. 7: District tournament at North Marion.
Nov. 19: 7:30 p.m., vs. Buchholz.
Nov. 21: 7:30 p.m. at Belleview.
Nov. 25: 7:30 p.m. vs. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Dec. 3: 7:30 p.m. vs. Newberry.
Dec. 5: 7:30 p.m. at Santa Fe.
Dec. 6: 7:30 p.m. at Lake Weir.
Dec. 10: 7:30 p.m. vs. Belleview.
Dec. 12: 7:30 p.m. at North Marion.
Dec. 17: 7:30 p.m. vs. Lake Weir.
Dec. 19: 7:30 p.m. vs. GHS.
Jan. 9: 7:30 p.m. vs. P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.
Jan. 11: 3 p.m. vs. New Smyrna Beach High School in Corie Buie Invitational at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.
Jan. 14: 7:30 p.m. vs. North Marion.
Jan. 16: 7:30 p.m. at GHS.
Jan. 18: 7:30 p.m. vs. Jacksonville Arlington Country Day.
Jan. 23: 7:30 p.m. at Buchholz.
Jan. 24: vs. Santa Fe.
Jan. 28/Jan. 31: District tournament at North Marion.
The boys will begin their season Thursday and Saturday during the Tip Off Classic at Eastside in games that won't count as regular season games. On Thursday, Santa Fe will play Hawthorne at 6 p.m., followed at 7:30 p.m. by Eastside against Columbia. On Saturday, Columbia will play Santa Fe at 6 p.m., followed at 7:30 p.m. by Eastside against Hawthorne. Tickets cost $6.
The Rams will officially begin regular season play on Dec. 3 at Union County High School after participating on Dec. 29 in the Jacksonville Shoot-Out.
The Lady Rams went 1-1 last week in the P.K. Yonge School Preseason Classic. They opened the regular season on Tuesday at home against Bradford County. They will host Buchholz at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Below is a preview of the Eastside boys and girls teams.
Coach Pop Williams is entering his 18th year at the helm of the Eastside program, and the Rams will employ the same style of aggresive play they have in the past.
Williams said his team has a long way to go defensively in order to be as successful as they can be, but he likes his chances to make a strong run deep into the playoffs if his players can stay healthy and take care of some business off the court. He is excited about the return of football players Seth Brown and Barry Johnson, both of whom did not play basketball last year after being instrumental in helping Eastside get to the regional finals in 2012. Williams also said the Rams will be really deep if five of his players who are not currently on the team because of disciplinary reasons do the right things and take care of their business so they can return to the team in the future.
"If every thing goes well and we stay healthy with all of our players actually playing, we will have a 12-man roster that I can play with, and I think we will be untouchable," Williams said.
Williams said Brown, Johnson and Mykell Hicks, all seniors who need to get in basketball shape after playing football, should join juniors Thomas Lundy, Darrius Norman and Marquez Ross as team leaders.
Williams said he is excited about the addition of Chris Williams, a freshman from Howard Bishop Middle School, who expects to get a lot of playing time.
"He is a good, coachable kid who has a lot of talent and he should help us a lot if he adjusts to the game on the high school varsity level, which is not easy to do," Williams said.
Williams said the Rams have a good chance to win District 5-5A this year, which, besides Eastside, includes Belleview, Lake Weir and North Marion.
He said he expect the most competition to come from North Marion unless Belleview and Lake Weir have some talent he has not seen yet.
"North Marion always has football players that play basketball, so they will be tough and will compete with us," Williams said.
Coach Lance Radford is entering his second year at the helm of the Lady Rams program.
Radford said the team will depend heavily on juniors center Shadayza Bullock and shooting guard A'nikeyawna Barber, both returning starters, to lead the team.
"They are really going to have to be the ones to step up for us so we can handle pressure as a team, because teams are going to press us and we are going to have to get better at handling the press," Radford said.
Barber said she is ready for the challenge.
"I take my responsibility as a leader very seriously," Barber said. "With this being my first year as a leader, I feel it is time for me to grow up and step up. Really, I just want to be able to have fun with the team, but be on a serious note at the same time."
Radford said the team will be young this year and won't have the luxury of a veteran point guard to handle the ball like it did last year with Tiara Lundy, who graduated last school year.
"We are going to have find someone who wants the basketball in their hands and is comfortable with the basketball in their hands," Radford said.
He said senior Jasmine Thomas, who played on the JV team last year, will handle the point guard position and will develop more as the season goes along. Radford also said sophomore guard N'mandria Reynolds should have a huge impact on the team because she is good with the basketball.
"She has the ability to make plays," Radford said.
He said he is trying to build confidence in the players during practices by stressing to them to stay calm, let the game come to them and trust in the system they run.
Radford said the team is adjusting as well as can be expected since the tragic and unexpected death last month of teammate Deidra Young. He said a different player will wear her jersey each game and the team will give Deidra's No. 11 jersey to her family at the end of the season.
"We are dedicating this season to Deidra," Radford said.