BARTRAM TRAIL – Missed three pointers and free throws proved costly to the Fleming Island High girls basketball team as the first matchup between the two teams most likely to get to the district 4-8A championship game in February went to Bartram Trail High School in a 71-68 overtime win Thursday night at Bartram Trail High School.
With Bartram Trail prohibiting a district title and a region final berth to Fleming Island last year with wins in both games, coach Joey Williams must find a way to knock that monkey off the back of the Golden Eagles.
“We beat them three times in our state run a few years ago,” said Williams. “Seems they have our number recently.”
From the beginning of Thursday night’s game, Fleming Island kept the Lady Bears at bay behind three pointers from Emma Richards, inside play from Aubry Burke and astute ballhandling from Hope Rozier.
Bartram Trail’s only response to the fast-paced Golden Eagle attack was mainly as a result of Fleming Island misses that turned into breakaway layups from sophomore point guard Bella Weary, the Bears leading scorer with an 18 points per game average, who finished with 25 points on the night.
“Other teams will see that they can do deep on us,” said Williams. “We’ll be working in practice to cut players like her off before they get to the layup.”
Richards, just a sophomore, hit two of four three pointers in the first period to lead the Golden Eagles to a 31-28 first quarter lead with center Madison Mas finding Isabelle Flores in the final moments for one final three to end the stanza.
“Madison and Emma for volleyball plus a couple girls that ran cross country came to the team a little late because both teams got into the state playoffs and could not practice with us,” said Williams, who was also without center Rayna Durden to volleyball. “They both played well tonight despite that and will only get better as the season goes on. Rayna will be back in the lineup this week.”
Burke took over in the second quarter with two jumpers and a three to push the score to 42-35 with newcomer Makenna Miller, from Ridgeview High, nailing a three to put Fleming Island up by nine points, 44-35 with three minutes to the half.
Burke again sparked a surge with a layup and another three, but Bartram Trail answered to keep the score at 51-48 into the fourth quarter.
Weary took over as the fourth started with two threes and two layups as Bartram Trail took a 55-54 lead with 6:46 left in the game as Fleming Island seemed unable to make any offensive plan work.
A three from Miller put Fleming Island up again at 57-55 with Bartram Trail answering to tie at 57-57 with 5:13 to go.
Bartram Trail’s defense sparked two missed jumpers; from Miller and Burke, with two blocked shots in the paint putting the Bears up 59-57 at 3:26. A steal from Rozier with a feed to Richards sunk a three pointer to put the Golden Eagles up 60-59. Free throws put Bartram Trail up 62-60 before Richards put in a left hook in traffic to tie the game 62-62 and put the match into a four-minute overtime.
A missed three from freshman Avery Cannon turned into a Weary layup with two minutes off the clock with Weary getting another steal to set up a Bartram Trail jumper and a 66-62 lead.
Bartram Trail got up 68-62 before Rozier pickpocketed a steal at halfcourt and found Richards in a corner spot for a three to get the Golden Eagles to 69-65. Free throws put the Bears up 71-65 before Burke hitting a final three for the 71-68 final.
Fleming Island (2-1, 1-1) already has a district win; a 57-15 win over Buchholz on November 27, with a 63-28 win over 6A-Menendez in their opener.
Oakleaf comes to Fleming Island on December 6 with Creekside on December 11 to complete the district first round of games.