By Britnee McCoy
Fans from all around the city of Gainesville prepared to see what some might call the most anticipated game of the season on Friday night, the Eastside-Gainesville High showdown.
Entering the game, GHS led the series 10-6 over the past eight years, and history repeated itself when the Purple Hurricanes trampled over the Rams, 60-38, in front of a packed house at Santa Fe College.
Friday’s game favored GHS (17-2) from start to finish. The Hurricanes scored the game’s first nine points and never trailed the Rams (12-8).
At the end of the first quarter, the score was 18-5 GHS with 12 of the 18 coming from junior point guard Rudy Bibb-Boyd, who was on fire all night finishing with a game-high 27 points. In fact, Bibb-Boyd, who was recognized as the Sonic Player-of-the-Game for the second time in the past week, single handily outscored the Rams at the end of the first half, 19-17.
“We had a good shoot around and I was just feeling it,” he said. “It’s not hard to finish when the goal just got wider and wider every time I shot the ball.”
GHS Head Coach Kelly Beckham was also very pleased with the performance of Bibb-Boyd, who scored 12 of his career-high in the opening quarter.
“I liked the way he was pushing the basketball,” he said . “He’s very quick when the ball is in his hands and he did a great job of getting it up and down.”
Despite the lopsided victory, GHS struggled with foul trouble. They committed 28 fouls over the course of the game, with 15 of those coming in the second half.
Bibb-Boyd, Ike Smith, and Ronte Oates each had four fouls.
Eastside guard Kahlil Banton was the only spark of hope for the Rams. He scored the team’s first basket of the game and was their only player in double figures with 11.
Senior Ed Porter got some action for the first time since early in the season due to a shoulder injury. The former Purple Hurricane finished with four points, but he ended up leaving the game late in the third quarter due to the same shoulder.
Next up for GHS, ranked second in the state in Class 6A, is a Class 6A-District 2 matchup against Oakleaf (Orange Park) this Tuesday night at home. The Purple Hurricanes defeated Oakleaf earlier this season, 76-56, and have already clinched the top seed in the district and home court advantage.
Eastside will take on Hawthorne this Tuesday night in Hawthorne in another Alachua County showdown. The Hornets (19-2) are currently ranked third in the state in Class 1A.
GHS and Eastside will compete again on Friday, January 30, at Santa Fe College. Coach Beckham says he knows the Rams will look to even the series for the fifth time in the past eight years.
“We’re going to have to get a lot better for the next match up” said coach Beckham. “I know Coach Williams will prepare his team and I know that they’re going to come out at a high level in a couple of weeks.”