Eagles take SJRAC title; Raiders fourth

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 2/3/21

BARTRAM TRAIL - A strong rebounding presence from junior Ahman Greenidge fueled a Fleming Island High power game as the Golden Eagles took down second seed Palatka High 60-45 in a show of late-season …

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Eagles take SJRAC title; Raiders fourth

Posted

BARTRAM TRAIL - A strong rebounding presence from junior Ahman Greenidge fueled a Fleming Island High power game as the Golden Eagles took down second seed Palatka High 60-45 in a show of late-season prowess that portends Fleming Island’s upcoming playoff hopes.

“It was definitely a good test for us against a very athletic team,” said Fleming Island High coach Traavis Chandler, now 15-8 with wins over Bartram Trail (78-53) and Nease (55-38) to get to the final. “We knocked Nease out last night in a strong game and knew Palatka from last year. To hold them under 50 points was our goal on defense.”

Winning his second SJRAC title in a row against Palatka, Chandler liked his team’s role in the upcoming playoffs with the late wins.

“I think we had Ahman using some of his size advantage underneath,” said Chandler, referring to Ahman Greenidge’s 12 rebounds on top of his team-leading 22 points. “We’re trying to be ready for the playoff push.”

Greenidge was the main defensive cog for Chandler with junior big man Demarion Valmyr (6’-7”, 225 lbs.) adding his heft clogging the middle on Palatka’s driving offense.

“Coach told me I needed to work harder to make my presence known,” said Greenidge, the lone starter from the past two years of Final Four level play at Fleming Island High. “We lost a good bunch of guys at graduation and we have been working to get to that same level as the past couple of years.”

Fleming Island made the state semifinals two years ago before losing to Daytona Beach Mainland last year in the region semifinals.

“We started with some new faces; some junior varsity guys, and it took us through the halfway point to get the team to gel,” said Greenidge.

Fleming Island opened fast against Palatka with an early 14-3 gap off key offensive rebounds and a Greenidge dunk highlighting the run. Greenidge put in 10 of the first 20 points into the second quarter en route to a 25-19 Golden Eagle lead at the break.

A three pointer from Gavin Goldblatt ended the third period with Fleming Island still in control, up 44-31.

In the third place game, Orange Park let Nease High (15-5) slip back into the game after the Raiders led by as much as 17-12 at the half and 32-28 after three quarters, but the Panthers kept pressuring the man-to-man Raider defense/

After a three pointer greeted the Raider defense as the fourth quarter started, the Raiders held off Nease until the two minute mark before losing 48-44.

“It’s like Groundhog Day because we keep making the same mistakes we probably eight games this year,” said Orange Park coach Derek Kurnitsky, now 12-9. “I’m not doing a good job getting us to finish. We’ll get it fixed.”

Orange Park beat St. Augustine in the first game of the tournament before falling 64-62 to Palatka in the semifinal.

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