MIDDLEBURG – Middleburg High girls basketball rolled to an early first quarter lead against 8A-Fleming Island, but could not hold the pace as the Golden Eagles exacted their precision outside …
MIDDLEBURG – Middleburg High girls basketball rolled to an early first quarter lead against 8A-Fleming Island, but could not hold the pace as the Golden Eagles exacted their precision outside shooting behind freshman Emma Richard’s 10 points to win 61-50 in a non-district clash of two area hoops playoff hopefuls on Thurs., Jan. 25.
Fleming Island, a Final Four team last year, holds a 22-4 overall record with a 7-1 district 4-8A record putting the Golden Eagles atop of the district ahead of Oakleaf High School (19-4, 6-2) with Bartram Trail (12-10, 5-3) on the bubble. Creekside, the district runnerup to Fleming Island last year, sits at 0-6 in district play along with Buchholz. Fleming Island lost in the Class 8A semifinal to South Broward, the state runnerup to Winter Haven.
Middleburg, in district 3-7A, 17-7, 6-2 in district play, must find a way to knock off top-seeded Nease (20-3, 7-0) who were the defending district runnerups to Middleburg last year, but upended the Broncos in the region semifinal before losing in the region final to Fort Walton Beach. Nease has beaten Middleburg twice this year. Fort Walton Beach was Class 7A runnerup to Fort Myers High School.
Ironically, Nease defeated Fleming Island 56-52 two days later with Molly Ragle top scorer with 14 points (3-3-Ptrs) and Tia Robinson held to just 13 points.
District tournaments start on Mon., Feb. 5 through Fri., Feb. 9.
District 4-8A (FIHS, OHS): at Fleming Island
District 3-7A (MHS): at Nease
District 4-6A (OPHS, RHS): at Wolfson (No. 1-OPHS 8-0, No. 2-Westside (2-2), No. 3-RHS (3-5)
District 5-6A (CHS): at Ponte Vedra (No. 1-Ponte Vedra (8-0), No. 2-Menendez (6-2), No. 3-Clay (0-4)
District 4-5A (KHHS): at Bradford (No. 1-Newberry (7-0), No. 5 KHHS (3-7)
District 2-3A (SJCDS): at SJCDS (No. 1 Trinity (12-8), No. 2-SJCDS (8-7)
Against Middleburg, Fleming Island fell behind off the opening whistle by as much as 15-10 as the Golden Eagles’ shooters could not find their rhythm causing Fleming Island coach Joey Williams to call a time out to regroup.
Regroup meant putting Richards, in just her ninth game of the year, in as a shooting guard and that helped produce a 6-0 run with Richards nailing the first of her two three-pointers giving Fleming Island a 16-15 lead with 3:48 left in the half.
From there, Fleming Island kept the pressure on the Bronco defense with Richards hitting her second three-pointer at 2:43 to stretch the lead to 22-17.
Fleming Island guard Tia Robinson, the top scorer with 25 points, took charge from that point with a layup, two free throws and a diving retrieval off a block shot by Aubrey Burke as Fleming Island entered the lockers up 27-19.
The third quarter, a historically a slow starter for both teams, turned into a Fleming Island surge to a 41-28 lead behind sharpshooting from Burke, with 15 points on the night, who hit a three-pointer at 2:05 then got a key offensive rebound and assist to a Richards’ jumper. Junior Hope Rozier popped a final jumper at the buzzer to end the quarter.
Senior guard Molly Ragle got the hot hand as the fourth quarter started with a banked three-pointer, a steal and a three-pointer at 6:05 to push the lead to 49-33 as Middleburg answered with just a jumper from forward Brittany Range and two free throws from Mallory Roney.
With Range fouling out with three minutes left in the game, Fleming Island reconfigured their defense to pressure Roney, the Broncos top scorer with 16 points, as the Golden Eagles cruised to the 61-50 final score.
OPHS: Jan. 29 vs. Keystone Heights; Jan. 30 at University Christian; Feb. 2 at Oakleaf
OHS: Jan. 30 vs. Wolfson; Feb. 2 vs. OPHS
RHS: Jan. 29 vs. Clay; Feb. 1 at Nease; Feb. 2 at MHS
MHS: Jan. 30 at Flagler Palm Coast; Feb. 2 vs. RHS
KHHS: Jan. 29 at OPHS; Jan. 30 vs. Cedar Key; Feb. 2 vs. West Nassau
SJCDS: Jan. 30 vs. Florida Deaf; Feb. 1 vs. Eagle’s View