Local high school boys basketball teams advance to the regional semifinals. Tonight, the Eastside Rams will host the Palatka Panthers and the Gainesville Hurricanes will travel to face the Columbia Tigers. All games have tip-off set for 7 p.m.
Last time out, the Rams trounced the Clay Blue Devils 60-32. Eastside head coach Herman Williams says he was proud of his team’s performance on both sides of the ball. The Rams held the Blue Devils to their lowest scoring game of the season and capitalized off turnovers and missed shots by Clay to secure the win. Junior Korin (KJ) Bradley scored 12 points for the Rams.
“I was pleased on how we came out, really actually playing overall,” Williams said.
With an impressive win under their belts, the team now looks to face the Palatka Panthers. The Rams have the home court advantage, having never lost a game at home this season. But, the Panthers are proficient on the road, with a perfect 8-0 away-game record. For the Rams and the Panthers, this rivalry is a tale as old as time. The Rams have back-to-back season-ending loses against Panthers away.
“Hopefully they [the team] can kind of understand what we got to do in this game at home now––we lost on the road twice–– so hopefully, they’ll have that sense of urgency going in and playing them tonight,” Williams says.
William’s team averages 58.3 points per game, with Bradley leading the charge, averaging 14.8 points per game. As the Rams prepare to face the Panthers, Williams says he hopes to use Paltaka’s lack of depth to his team’s advantage.
With a 5-4 away-game record, Gainesville is back on the road this week after clinching a 55-47 win last week against St. Augustine High School. The Hurricanes have shown improvement throughout this season, losing seven of their first 13 games. However, head coach Kelly Beckham says his team is playing their best basketball now.
We have come a long way to get to the point we’re at right now. Tonight is just a matter of maintaining our composure in a hostile area and knocking down shots,” Beckham says.
Gainesville has faced Columbia three times this season, with the Tigers claiming two of the wins. In the most recent matchup, the Tigers outscored the Hurricanes in three quarters. It will be essential for Gainesville to play aggressively on both sides of the ball to stop Columbia.