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Clay County Hoop Action

Contenders look to destroy Golden Eagles winning streak

Posted 12/14/22

Ridgeview- The Friday night hoops action picked up a notch as everyone in the county wants to be the first to knock down the unbeaten Fleming Island Golden Eagles. In intra-county play, the Ridgeview …

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Clay County Hoop Action

Contenders look to destroy Golden Eagles winning streak


Ridgeview- The Friday night hoops action picked up a notch as everyone in the county wants to be the first to knock down the unbeaten Fleming Island Golden Eagles.
In intra-county play, the Ridgeview Panthers wanted their shot in the Panther Den and started out looking like tonight could be the magic night as the Panthers opened up a six point lead, flying around the court, putting the Golden Eagles in a daze.
By the second quarter, the lead began to shrink as Fleming Island repositioned a few players to slow the Panther attack. The Panther’s began throwing it up without draining. Fleming Island went all out on defense and began racking up the steals, driving, and hitting to get ahead 35-32 at the half.
Out of the locker room, Fleming Island charged the batteries and pounded away at the Panthers, holding the home team to four points in the fourth quarter. The onslaught continued until the final buzzer sounded on a 26 point victory over the Panthers, 78-52.
“We told them they just have to raise the energy level during the halftime, they have to get after it,” said Fleming Island Head Coach Traavis Chandler. “I was proud of these guys coming out with that third quarter energy. We are down two of our top players tonight, one with an injury and the other on an official college visit. The two of them would bring 30 points. I was really proud of the other players stepping up. The Panthers really came out to play tonight, it’s Friday night and we’re in the Panther’s Den. These guys played real hard.”
After the all-out assault by the Panthers in the first quarter, they never let up. It was Fleming Island who decided it was time to step up and go all out. By 4:52 in the second, Fleming Island finally took control and led the game, 27-26. The Panthers used an aggressive defense and kept everything close, knowing a few points here and there could make the difference. As the teams took to the locker rooms at the half, the Golden Eagle three point lead didn’t look so intimidating, giving the Panthers motivation for the second half.
But out of the locker room, the Golden Eagles looked like they found something to charge them up to full capacity.
On the other end of the court, the Panthers seemed like they never rested, or maybe rested too much. The drive just wasn’t there.
“We came out, and it was just our energy was low,” said Panther’s Head Coach Jerome Clyburn. “Sometimes I think, well that’s our Achilles Heel, the third quarter. I wish somehow we could just not have a halftime. In the beginning, the main thing was the energy kept us right in the game. In the end, we got a little tired and ran out of gas. We have to do a little more conditioning after practice.”
Fleming Island felt this and pounced all over the Panthers as Ridgeview was trying to get back into the game. At 3:17 of the third, Ridgeview was under the net and put the ball up five times without it ever going in. Coming down with the rebound, Fleming Island drove the court and drained it for another two. The highlight of the night was with a steal, Fleming Island had the ball with :02 seconds on the clock. They worked the ball over to George Hamm who ended the night as the team high scorer with 20 points. From mid-court Hamm tossed a buzzer beater, throwing up a shot that dropped with nothing but net for a 3-pointer ending the third quarter, 63-48.
The final stanza was all Golden Eagles. Even after they cleared the bench with subs, the lead just kept growing as Ridgeview couldn’t catch a break on the ball dropping and Fleming Island was relentless on rebounds and driving. There was little slowed, settled play. Just hustle up and down the court and tons of layups until they amassed the 26 point gap in the last minute and held it there to head back to the Island still unblemished 6-0 with the huge 78-52 victory.
“Losing 10 seniors last year, no one thought we would be where we are at right now,” said Chandler. “I just tell the guys, one game at a time. Just believe in the culture, championship culture, championship togetherness and just getting it done. I tell them just think like we are 0-0.”
Following Hamm’s 20 points, Fleming Island high scorers included Darien Domineck with 16, and Joey Chenette with 12. As a team, Fleming Island hit six 3-point shots. For the Panthers, Kole Whitaker had 17, followed by Chris Baptiste with 9. The Panthers hit seven 3-pointers.
With a stifling defense in their Fortegra 9:12 tournament opener, the Oakleaf High Knights boys basketball team ran roughshod over Raines High School, but top-ranked Providence had just enough firepower to offset the Knights overwhelming attack with an overtime win. Oakleaf (6-1) finished third with a final game; a win over Sandalwood.
“You missed a classic,” said Price, after his Episcopal game in the semifinals. “Up 58-53, we lost in overtime and had a shot at the end to win it. A great performance that came up a little short.”
Against Raines, Oakleaf won 58-12 to challenge the Providence unbeaten record; now 7-0, with a handful of steals and blocked shots; two steals from Aaron Rivers, two from Sean Jones, four blocks Coachman. Oakleaf opened up fast with a 15-9 first quarter, then closed fast with a 15-7 fourth quarter to tie the game. Providence went 10-5 in the overtime for the win.
Devin Kersh was selected among three Providence players to the Fortegra All Tournament team.
Against Providence, Kersh and Travis Knox both topped scoring with 12 points.
Against Sandalwood, Kersh had 11 points, five rebounds with Knox finishing with 10.
Oakleaf five straight wins to open the season is a school record.
Oakleaf is at Clay on Tues., Dec. 13 with First Coast hosting the Knights on Friday.
Oakleaf will play in the Jarvis Williams Christmas Tournament at Palatka High School.
Also at Fortegra, Orange Park (5-2) opened with a 42-36 loss to Sandalwood before beating Camden County (83-58) and Mandarin (72-40) to finish fifth.
Against Sandalwood, Orange Park took a 21-20 lead into the third quarter and held to 26-25 into the fourth but could not break away.
Raider guard Thomas Faucett had 20 points against Mandarin with Avorie Grayson grabbing 11 rebounds.
Sherrard Adams had 20 with Faucett adding 18 against Camden County.
In regular season play before the Fortegra Tournament, Orange Park beat Flagler Palm Coast 68-34 with Adams at 21 points.
Orange Park has a home game against Bishop Kenny (4-1) on Tues., Dec. 13.
Orange Park will play in the Battle on the Island at Fleming Island High over the Christmas break.
On Sat., Dec. 10, Clay (1-4) lost a 64-48 match to unbeaten 2A-Munroe (3-0) out of Tallahassee.
Middleburg (2-4) is riding a three game losing streak with losses to St. Johns Country Day School, Frederica Academy (GA) and Keystone Heights.
St. Johns Country Day School, led by seventh grader Camden Cooper’s hot scoring (21.6 points per game), is 5-2 with three wins stopped by a loss to Tocoi Creek on Fri., Dec. 9. The Spartans won three over Stanton, First Coast Christian and Beaches Chapel prior to Tocoi Creek.
Cooper and senior center Andrew Hightower are top scorers with Hightower adding 18.9 points per game. Cooper has games of 24, 34, 32 with three games at 17 and one for 10 to lead the Spartans.
Against Stanton, with 34 points, Cooper hit five three pointers. A 32 point effort against First Coast Christian came with four threes.
Hightowers best game was an 18 point night in a win over Middleburg.
St. Johns heads to the Classic Basketball Tournament in the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando with a first game scheduled against Sunbright High (1-5) of Tennessee.
The Spartans bracket features teams from Tuscaloosa, AL; McGuffey High (PA), Montclair Kimberly Academy (NJ), Tiverton High (RI) and Uniontown Area (PA).
Keystone Heights boys basketball (4-2) has three straight wins since a Middleburg win on December 6 (65-52) with wins over Crescent City (63-49) and Baldwin (56-53) to start 2022.