Eastside High School battles the Palatka Panthers in a Tuesday night regional semifinal bout in the Florida Class 6A state boy’s basketball tournament. The Rams come in to the game winners of nine of their last 10 with the most recent victory being a 70-59 win over Ponte Vedra in the regional quarterfinals.
These two teams met in regional play during the 2016-2017 season. Palatka defeated Eastside 57-53 in the regional quarterfinal and would advance all the way to the Class 6A state semifinals.
For Eastside, the Rams have not been in a regional semifinal since the 2014-2015 season when they defeated Lake Weir to advance to the Class 5A regional final.
Eastside head coach Herman “Pop” Williams described Palatka as a scrappy team that likes to run the floor and shoot the basketball. He hopes his team can contain the Panthers on their home floor.
“We adapt to any kind of flow that any team wants to play,” Williams said.
Although, he said Palatka is not as disciplined on the defensive end as some of the teams Eastside has faced. Palatka comes in allowing an average of about 52 points over its last three games.
Williams said a trio of players have been key to his team: seniors Noah Richardson and Malik Robertson and junior James Pope. He said those three understand their role and that sometimes it won’t be all three of them playing lights out.
He said the Rams have recently improved on the defensive front. Here is what he said has changed with his team:
Palatka is hosting the matchup but Williams said his squad is used to playing on the road, but his team needs to show up mentally prepared and make its free throws. He cited the charity stripe as a reason for the Rams’ defeat last postseason.