FLEMING ISLAND - Showcasing their ‘Chaos’ defense with its intent to dismantle most offensive sets, the Fleming Island High boys basketball team snared nine first half steals to scores en route to a 71-32 win over Thomas County Central High of Georgia in the opening round of the Battle on the Island Basketball Tournament held Thurs.-Sat., Dec. 20-22 at Fleming Island High School.
The win puts the Golden Eagles at 8-0 for the season, one of the best starts in the school’s history. Fleming Island advanced to the semifinals to face Atlantic Coast High (8-2) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Dec. 21. Atlantic Coast beat Baker County in their round one game.
“I reminded them that last year we didn’t do what we wanted to do and win our own tournament,” said Fleming Island coach Traavis Chandler. “In this game’s first half, I thought we were a little lethargic in the first half on offense; out defense was there with nine steals and we opened up on offense in the second half with 40 points.”
Fleming Island blew out the first quarter to an 18-7 lead behind a game-opening three pointer from Jordan Miles, who also drew two offensive fouls on the defensive end of the court.
Junior center Aaron Brown ignited a 7-2 run with a rim-rattling dunk to push the Eagles to the 18-7 lead.
The fast paced game seesawed between missed jumpers by Central and miscues caused by the vaunted Fleming Island trap defense as the deficit grew to 30-15 with Sebastian Astor nailing a three pointer near the two minutes to half mark.
Junior forward Elias Martin powered up an offensive rebound that got two free throws as the lead grew to 32-19 en route to a halftime lead at 34-23.
In the third, with Fleming Island racing to a 61-23 lead with 27 unanswered points to open the second half, Chandler saw the awakening of some creative offense with Astor and Gianfranco Grafals pushing the pace.
“We picked up the energy to score near 40 points in the second half,” said Chandler. “We pushed the pace at both ends.”
After a monster blocked shot from Brown and an alley oop from Astor to Grafals, Fleming Island put their foot on the gas pedal to end the game in impressive fashion.
“Atlantic Coast offers a similar style as us with fast athletes,” said Chandler. “We will be tested.”