Fleming Island avenges early Oakleaf loss

By Ray DiMonda Correspondent
Posted 1/20/21

OAKLEAF - Fleming Island High boys basketball coach Traavis Chandler said the 2021 Golden Eagles team would be a lot better than the 2020 team that lost a home match against Oakleaf High.

And, on …

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Fleming Island avenges early Oakleaf loss

Posted

OAKLEAF - Fleming Island High boys basketball coach Traavis Chandler said the 2021 Golden Eagles team would be a lot better than the 2020 team that lost a home match against Oakleaf High.

And, on Friday. Chandler proved prophetic.

“We are a different team than we were when we first met” said Chandler. “We are much more confident than we were a month ago, and we know what we are looking for on offense.”

After falling behind 12-9 early in the first quarter, Fleming Island slowly and methodically in the second quarter tightened their grip and kept pulling. With a layup from Ahman Greenidge at 3:14 in the second, the Golden Eagles took a lead that they never relinquished to a 52-44 in the Oakleaf High gym.

Using a zone defense during what at times looked like full contact basketball, then moving to a heavy press early in the fourth quarter, the Golden Eagles kept the Knights against the ropes as Oakleaf

became their own worst enemy by going only 37 percent from the line on free throws; points that may have changed the outcome.

Fleming Island’s Greenidge was on fire, especially from the line, going 8 for 13 on his way to a team high 16 points. Colton Zapp was a monster from the outside hitting four 3-pointers on his way to a 14 point night. The balance on offense showed as Fleming Island found the secret sauce of who to have on the court together to compliment each other, as well as find ways to shut down the Knight’s attack.

“We just had to find guys who could get the stops” said Chandler. “The tough part was finding the combination of guys who could get stops and put the ball in the basket. Just finding the right combination that, fortunately, we found something that worked.”

After Greenidge worked the Golden Eagles into the lead, the team cashed in on the Knight’s misses, grabbing the boards, and draining shots in the last two minutes of the half to push out to a 31-22 half lead.

The third quarter was a defensive showcase as both teams scored a combined 13 points. There was action, but it was all take-aways, and passing for a 37-29 Golden Eagle lead.

“It’s an in-county rivalry and we just tried to settle them down as much as possible, trust the offense, and from there,” said Chandler. “We were able to find a little bit of separation.”

In the fourth, Fleming Island flipped a switch with 6:30 left to play and simply harassed the Knights right from the throw-in. Wearing the Knights like a jacket, Fleming Island frustrated the Knights, keeping them from getting any sort of quality shots, scooped up the rebounds, then took it to the house over and over. The Knights went to intentional fouls to try and get the ball back, but Fleming Island did not have the same issue from the line that the Knights were suffering, going 50 percent on free throws all night and opening up the lead. Price, seeing there was not enough time left to mount any sort of charge, pulled his team back in the closing seconds, and could do no more than watch Fleming Island demonstrate their passing skills until the last buzzer on the 52-44 loss.

According to Chandler, the Golden Eagles are nowhere close to where they ultimately want to be.

“In December we were still trying to figure out a lot of new varsity guys. Now we are settling down, a 5 game winning streak, picking it up at the right time.”

The Golden Eagles have one week and three games left to fine tune before tournament play begins January 26. Oakleaf as well has a week of three games to try and find the balance if they want to make any sort of run in the post season.

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