ST. JOHNS – Fleming Island High’s girls basketball team roared to a 20-12 first quarter lead and looked to be thwarting the threat of Bartram Trail’s challenge in their region 1-8A semifinal …
ST. JOHNS – Fleming Island High’s girls basketball team roared to a 20-12 first quarter lead and looked to be thwarting the threat of Bartram Trail’s challenge in their region 1-8A semifinal game on Thursday at Creekside High School, but turnovers and a cold shooting spree ended the Golden Eagles season with the Bears winning 51-48.
“We beat ourselves against this team both times,” said Fleming Island coach Joey Williams. “We had nine turnovers last time and 20 tonight.”
Fleming Island ends their season at 24-6. The Golden Eagles played in the Final Four last year. Bartram Trail, who defeated Fleming Island 50-47 in the district 4-8A championship game on February 10, advances to the region final against Tallahassee Lincoln (21-1), the district 2-8A champion over Tate High.
“So many turnovers tonight,” said Fleming Island High coach Joey Williams. “This is the youngest team we played this season. Twenty turnovers is not going to win games like this. The two losses to them are the most frustrating for me as a coach.”
After the first quarter scoring bonanza, Fleming Island cooled their jets to end the half behind 28-27 behind a halfcourt buzzer beater from guard Reedy Davenport.
“That one hurt,” said Williams. “The momentum was in their locker room when the half ended and I had to convince our girls that we could still win the game.”
Both teams volleyed about in the third period with defensive efforts from Aubrey Burke and Molly Ragle stifling the Bartram Trail attack.
Fleming Island looked to be finding their groove with a set of steals to assists to layups with Hope Rozier and Tia Robinson answering as Fleming Island went up 31-30 near the two minute mark.
Bartram Trail got a layup but, then, another backbreaking three pointer; this time from freshman Dana Art as Fleming Island.
From there, with the score at 35-31 for Bartram Trail, Ragle took the reigns and nailed a three pointer from the left side of the lane to keep the Golden Eagles within reach.
A second Ragle bomb landed the score at 37-37 with 1:26 left in the third en route to a 39-39 score at the break.
Rebounds and free throws became the scenario for Fleming Island with Robinson hitting one of two on one series and center Skylar Baltezegar also going one for two.
“We needed those extra free throws obviously as a game like this comes down to missed free throws,” said Williams. “We have to hit those.”
Ragle again pushed the pace for Williams with a strong defensive stand against Davenport swinging the momentum to Fleming Island who took a 43-39 lead off two free throws from Ragle.
A bobbled ball by Burke led to a steal and breakaway for Bartram Trail guard Tia Singleton that seemed to ignite the crowd. Bartram Trail would tie the game at 43-43 off an offensive rebound that led to two free throws from Singleton with 4:41 to go.
“I have to do a better job as a coach to teach this kid of situation, a close game,” said Williams. “Mental toughness is a tough thing to coach.”
Again, both teams volleyed about exchanging baskets to create a 47-47 tie with 2:15 to go as Baltezegar, the hero of the Golden Eagles region quarterfinal win over First Coast, got two inside layups to keep the score close.
Bears took the lead off a layup over Baltezegar by senior guard Grace Tybor that caused a time out from Williams to implore his team to take shots at the basket.
“It seemed like no one wanted to take the tough shot,” said Williams. “We were passing way too much at that point as the clock was ticking down.”
A pass from Robinson to Ragle got smothered under the basket and created a jump ball whistle that gave the ball back to Bartram Trail who got a free throw off the exchange to go ahead 50-47 with less than a minute to go.
Robinson again hit one of two free throws on the next Fleming Island offensive set to score the game 50-48, but a missed three pointer from Ragle, that was in and out of the rim, almost won the game.
Fleming Island had one more shot, with 10 seconds on the clock, with an inbound situation at the far end of the court, but Burke could not get a handle of the errant pass as the buzzer sounded.