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Eastside Basketball Throttles Bradford

The Eastside Rams boys basketball team defeated the Bradford Tornadoes Thursday night, 63-20.

The first quarter was promising for both teams. Both showed signs of promise on both ends of the floor, and after the first eight-minute period the score read 12-8, Eastside. However, that close dogfight was short-lived. The Rams turned it up a notch against the Tornadoes from the second quarter onward. Coach “Pop” Williams’ energetic group was ready to go tonight, causing problems all night with their suffocating press and defensive trapping. I

t was a defensive performance reminiscent of Bob Huggins’ “Press Virginia” teams, as the home side sustained constant defensive pressure and outhustled Bradford all night. They passed and cut repeatedly, creating lots of layups and open looks. Overall it was a good night for the Rams and a night that will certainly be used by Bradford for teaching when they get back to Starke.

Eastside’s successful night

Eastside had a point to prove tonight after two straight blowout losses to Santa Fe and P.K. Yonge. Their leading scorers, forward Jemall Dix and guard DJ Slater, both had eleven points. They were the only two double-digit scores for the Rams tonight, as guard Quashawn Brittingham nearly joined them with nine points.

All three of those guys played excellently for Eastside tonight, and it would be a tossup between them for my player of the game pick. Having just two guys hit double figures shows just how unselfish this team is. They had nine guys score tonight, and five of them had over eight points. They moved the ball constantly and created a lot of lanes on the offensive side.

Defensively, it was a complete team effort, as all five guys on the court seemed to play with their hair on fire. They forced over twenty turnovers with their lockdown defense and really sped up the game for the Tornadoes. The takeaways opened up their fastbreak offense, which was efficient and got them open looks and easy layups. This one played out just how the coaching staff drew it up, and the Rams should be feeling good heading into the weekend.

Early season struggles for the Tornadoes

As for Bradford, it was a night that can be used for learning. This was only the Tornadoes’ first game, and this team definitely showed signs of promise. They really got sped up tonight by Eastside and were never able to bring the game back to a pace they were comfortable playing after the first quarter.

The constant trapping and pressing forced them to make hurried and inaccurate passes and didn’t allow them to run any set plays to get guys open. The defense started strong but fell apart due to the offense’s turnovers. The turnovers led to fastbreaks for the Rams, which is where they got a lot of their points.

Their starting point guard, Damarion Hankerson, was one of the few bright spots for Bradford tonight. Simply put, he can ball. He weaved through the defense getting others open multiple times. Despite finishing with just six points, he was the reason the Tornadoes got most of their open looks. Shooting specialist Mattox Burgin joined him with six on two threes, as they were the joint-leading scorers for Bradford.

What’s Next?

 Eastside (2-2) will travel to Ocala for an early season tournament. They will play Lake Weir (1-2) on Saturday at 1:30. Bradford (0-1) will play Dunnellon (1-3) at a neutral site on Saturday at 3 p.m.

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