Eastside girls basketball team poses with its district trophy. [Amanda Roman]

Eastside Girls Basketball Wins District Trophy, On Road For Regional

The Eastside girls basketball team won the 4A-District 5 tournament title Friday by beating Palatka, 52-37.

A Short, Yet Stern Lead

The Rams (15-8), the top seed, started off aggressive with Precious Marshall scoring a layup within the first 20 seconds of the game.

However, two minutes later, the third seed Panthers (14-11) scored, tying the game. This pattern played out the whole quarter with both teams having equal possession of the ball.

The Rams’ offensive was playing aggressive, but there were some mistakes at the basket that kept them from gaining a stronger lead against the Panthers.

Akira Martin did an amazing job at consistently creating opportunities for the Rams through her ability to defend and take the ball up the court. Aniya West also brought home six points for the Rams, ending the quarter with the lead at 15-10.

A Stressful Second Quarter

The intensity of the game picked up quickly into the second quarter.

Akira Martin (14) locking down the Panthers’ offense. [Amanda Roman]
The Rams were playing aggressive offensively, but missed most of the opportunities they had to score. Martin used her speed and agility to move the ball, but crucial layups and open 3-pointers were missed by the Rams as a whole. The Rams were even missing on foul shots and were not able to follow through on rebounds.

The Rams’ defense was looser this quarter, allowing the Panthers to gain 11 points while they only gained seven, making the score 22-21.

Still Able To Stay Ahead

The Rams started off the second half strong with Marshall scoring a 3-pointer. Immediately after, Martin stole the ball from the Panthers and scored a layup. West then scored a 3-pointer, giving the Rams a solid lead.

The Panthers had no points on the scoreboard halfway into the third quarter. However, the Rams kept turning over the ball on offense because they were not taking shots in time. The Rams began to shoot less, allowing the Panthers to stay close.

Marshall scored another 3-pointer near the end of the third quarter, but the Panthers also scored, making the score 35-26 Rams after three quarters.

Pushing Until The End

Keyauri O’Neal set the tone for this quarter by scoring less than a minute in. Merveille Namusura was working on offense as well, scoring a layup at 6:40. Martin followed after her at 6:16 by stealing the ball and running the whole court for a layup.

While the Rams fell short on multiple opportunities, they still dominated offensively and maintained more possessions over the Panthers.  O’Neal stole the ball, which allowed Namusura to score another layup.

“That one more time. That’s what pushed us through,” coach Lonna Turner said to describe how her team secured the win. “One more time. One more quarter. One more.”

Martin, again, was on top of the ball, anticipating the Panthers’ every move and gaining points.

The game began to pick up toward the end with multiple fouls being called on the Rams as they fought to increase their lead.

“We could taste the trophy. It’s right there in front of us,” Turner said.

Jazmine Manning made a powerful block on defense, showing the Panthers that their defense was not letting up. West ended the fourth quarter with four points for the Rams for the final margin.

On The Road To State

The Rams left their heart out on the court tonight, Turner said, which is what has set them on this journey to the state tournament. That combined with their “Ram pride” and discipline is what will help them navigate this journey.

Eastside, as the six seed in Region 2, will play at three seed Dunnellon (22-3) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the quarterfinals.

“Yeah, we won districts, but we’re still the underdogs. They’re going to underestimate us, ” Turner said.


2024 Girls Basketball State Tournament 4A

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