ORANGE PARK - With an astounding 18 shots made off 24 shots taken, Orange Park High junior guard Eris Lester stamped out a 44 point game performance in a 64-59 win over previously unbeaten (now 5-1, …
ORANGE PARK - With an astounding 18 shots made off 24 shots taken, Orange Park High junior guard Eris Lester stamped out a 44 point game performance in a 64-59 win over previously unbeaten (now 5-1, 10th ranked in Class 3A) Providence on Tues., Nov. 29 as the Lady Raider schedule entered its gauntlet phase.
With the win, and a followup 51-46 win over Raines High on Tues., Dec. 2, Orange Park seemed on a roll until a Saturday night clash with Ocoee High (4-2, 7A region semifinalist 2022) that ended with the Knights winning a 48-45 thriller. Ocoee had on its schedule such powerhouses as 7A-Timber Creek (region final loser to Oakleaf in 2021), 7A-Mandarin (17-4 last year, beat by Oakleaf district final, Spruce Creek region quarter) and Winter Park (4-1, 21-6 last year, 7A region semis).
With her 44 pointer, Lester has upped her points average to an area leading 28.3 points per game with games of 23, 27, 19 and 44 thus far.
Where the Lady Raiders are vulnerable is that second shooter which is a 7.3 points per game from junior Autumn Nesmith.
Factor that into an upcoming clash at Oakleaf (7-1) on Thurs., Dec. 8 after a Tues., Dec. 6 home match against Bishop Kenny (6-1).
Bishop Kenny (7-1) has already resoundingly beat Ridgeview, 53-28, and prides its defense with four games under 20 opponents points, while Oakleaf’s lone loss was an early season 68-57 to Valor Christian of Georgia in the Inside Exposure tournament at Bolles on November 21.
Oakleaf has scored near an average of 70 points per game with a balanced, high octane attack from the senior trio of Kaylah Turner (20.4 pts per game), Fantasia James (14.1 ppg) and Kamiya Jones ((9.9 ppg). Add sophomore Trista Brown advancing skill set as a fourth prototype of Coach Fred Cole’s fast-paced attack with a 10.1 points per game and opponents will be facing a four pronged offensive juggernaut keyed off a steal to layup ratio of almost 10 steals per game; Turner with five per game.
Turner is the driving force with James the acrobat while Jones is the ice-in-the-veins three pointer.
Should Orange Park survive Bishop Kenny, Oakleaf will be formidable and a must-see game for area hoops fans.
Ridgeview (5-1) plays a grind game with the Blocton sisters; Nia and Nacoya, being bouncers in the paint and senior shooter Paetyn Miller on the edge with the Panthers staying above 50 points per game and opponents under 30-ish.
Against Bishop Kenny, Nia Blocton was held scoreless with just four shots with Kenny’s 6’-1” paint presense, Clare Coyle, dominating the glass to a 34-11 halftime lead with just two Panther points in the first quarter.
Ridgeview’s scoring has come from 10 points per games from three players; Miller, Nia Blocton and sophomore guard Emma Rayes who shares 10 threes with Millers’ team leading 11 for the Panther outside shooting.
Ridgeview has not been flashy, but instead are grinders that wear opponents down.
Fleming Island has opened with three of four wins for new coach Michael Hayward with a lone loss to Episcopal, but the Golden Eagles meat of the schedule comes in January with Oakleaf, Orange Park hosting the Golden Eagles.
London Jenkins is still the hot hand for Hayward with a 21.0 points per game. Jenkins will need help in the shooting with Victoria Nobles at just 11 and no other player above 10 points per game.
St.Johns Country Day School (2-3) got 39 points from guard Taliah Scott in 67-50 win over Munroe on Saturday after three losses by the Lady Spartans. Scott is close to 2,000 career points as St. Johns visits Terry Parker on Mon., Dec. 5. with a tough San Jose Prep (4-2) team and Episcopal (3-3) on a two game road trip.
Keystone Heights High coach Jessica Sykes-Carter has what she thinks is her most athletic team finishing off a 57-13 and 44-30 weekend double to be at 5-2 with losses to St. Augustine and Ridgeview.
Multiple sport athlete Kiley Channell is top scorer at 14.7 points per game from the outside with senior center Dezaray Bright strong inside at 12.1 points. Channell has 16 of the teams 24 three pointers with junior Yasmin Bryant landing seven.
Clay High first year coach Doug Deters is slowing finding his way around the high school girls game after a good run as boys coach at Green Cove Springs Junior High, but an injuryu to guard Teaghan Moses slowed the process. Deters is crafty though and will get good mileage from his team, now 2-3.
Middleburg, with coach Lindsay Burghart and assistant Max Grandstaff holding solid defensive tactics adding ex-Burg super scorer Hannah Roney to the bench to coach after superb career stops in two college, may have found a way to put points on the board.
If Roney can coach up some shooters, watch out. Middleburg, 2-5, may become a sleeper team afte the Christmas break.
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