Eastside overcomes slow start, downs Buchholz 57-49

By Declan Walsh
Twitter – @dawalsh_UF

K.J. Bradley’s 25 points led all scorers and helped Eastside past a gutsy Buchholz effort, 57-49, on Saturday night.

Both coaches noted their exceptionally young rosters, particularly a Buchholz team with five freshmen on the varsity roster.

Unsurprisingly, growing pains emerged at times for both ball clubs, with Eastside struggling mightily out of the gate.

The Rams (2-1) just hit just one field goal in the first quarter, as a combination of good Buchholz defense, poor shot selection, and unforced errors meant that Eastside were unable to settle into an offensive rhythm in the opening frame.

Conversely, despite posting a relatively meager nine points, Buchholz (1-3) did a good job in the first quarter controlling the tempo offensively, keeping an athletic Eastside team out of transition and opening up a few good looks from the perimeter, allowing the Bobcats take a 9-4 lead after the first eight minutes.

Buchholz maintained this 5-point advantage throughout the second quarter, posting a 16-11 advantage with four minutes left in the first half.

However, Daylin Norman, whose seven first half points led all Bobcats, and Colsen Orth, picked up their second fouls in quick succession and were forced to the bench.

Eastside responded with an 8-0 run and ultimately took a one point lead into the break, 19-18, despite trailing for most of the game.

Rams’ coach Herman Williams, who is in his 24th season, inspired a completely different performance from his Eastside after the intermission. The Rams scored 21 points in the third quarter, eclipsing their total from the first and second quarters combined.

When asked what contributed to the Rams’ offensive turnaround, Sonic Drive-In Player-of-the-Game K.J. Bradley said, “We started to execute our plays better, and really started to run and listen to our coach.”

After a ferocious slam and an athletic and-one finish, Eastside stretched the lead to 15 and looked primed to put the game out of reach.

However, a young Buchholz team showed impressive resolve, cutting the lead to single digits and trailing just 40-31 going into the fourth quarter.

Buchholz continued to chip away at the deficit in the fourth, lead by Terrell Jackson, whose eleven second half points kept the Bobcats within striking distance.

Jackson was supplemented by Orth, as the sophomore hit two big threes in the final period, the ladder of which cut the deficit to 5, as Eastside lead 53-48 with just under a minute left in the game.

However, Buchholz were unable to get over the hump, and the Rams iced the game from the free throw line and escaped at home as 57-49 victors.

Along with K.J. Bradley, Ike Gainey provided an excellent performance for Eastside. The Trinity Catholic (Ocala) transfer posted 16 points off the bench in a very efficient performance.

Bradley spoke highly of his new teammate.

“He’s definitely a good add,”he said.  “He can shoot the ball very well, put the ball on the floor and get points on the board.”

Calvin Cooper also posted a solid outing, scoring ten points while going 6-8 from the foul line.

For Buchholz, the Bobcats shared the wealth more evenly than their opposition.

Terell Jackson led the way with 11 points, but the team saw significant offensive contributions from Jalen Jerkins (10 points), Hayden Findley (9 points), Norman (7 points), and Orth (6 points).

Being such young teams, there were inevitable struggles but both teams can undoubtedly take positives from this performance.

Buchholz has to be encouraged by the perimeter shooting they saw last night. They knocked down six triples against a strong defensive team in Eastside. Three point shooting is often regarded as the great equalizer, so sustained proficiency from deep will likely close the gap between a somewhat inexperienced and undersized Buchholz team and the rest of their 6A-District 2 foes.

Eastside was able to ramp up the pressure, especially in the third quarter where they were able to force a lot of turnovers and get out into transition, an area in which the Rams looked very impressive. Beyond forcing turnovers, the Eastside pressure disrupted the offensive rhythm of the Bobcats and forced quite a few rushed shots.

Eastside has an opportunity to rack up further Gainesville bragging rights, as they travel across the city to take on P.K. Yonge (1-1) on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Buchholz also stays in the city as they travel to take on Saint Francis Catholic Academy (2-1), also on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.