FLEMING ISLAND - Fleming Island High boys basketball played a scorched Earth schedule to the Class 8A Final Four last year and coach Traavis Chandler had an entire summer to ponder his encore for 2019-2020.
“We played a lot of ball through summer camps, playing in some fall events, and having the open gym” said Chandler. “We’ve been working on all of it so they can get a feel for one another and it was showing tonight and hopefully it will show for 24 more games.”
Chandler's 2020 version of fast and furious put on an absolutely dominant attack against the Ridgeview High Panthers to open the regular season with a 76-57 statement win that kicked the door in on the 2019-2020 season.
The entire game, right up the final buzzer, both teams never took their foot off the gas and the packed house at the Eagle’s Nest was treated to an awesome show. Both teams kept the press defense on all four quarters. Of note as well was the breakneck pace of the full court sprints both teams kept up. It was as if it was a game of chicken to see who would let up first. Neither team did.
“The guys know each other and it’s a cross-town rivalry," said Ridgeview High coach Jerome Clyburn. "Any time it’s another Clay County school, it’s going to be a rivalry, it’s going to be intense, and even those guys that are 10th, 11th, when they get in, they are going to show coach- hey I can play with the same type of intensity, and I was proud to see them continue to play at that level.”
Fleming Island looked more like the last week of regular season with court choreography that most teams don’t reach for weeks. Blind passes, give and go, pick and roll passes, the team simply looked like they never stopped practicing since last season, and, in the end, Fleming Island put the rest of the district on notice, Fleming Island Basketball is here to stake their claim.
Clyburn used all his tools available with strategic time-outs to try and slow the pace and regain some ground. Every time the Panthers would get some momentum by hitting a three-pointer or stealing the ball, it just sent the Golden Eagles to another level and they countered with more points.
After the half break, there was no let-up in the pace as Fleming Island went on to put another 21 points up, and Ridgeview could only ante up 16 for a 57-38 third quarter lead.
At times, it seemed like the crowd was at a tennis match with the teams sprinting back and forth with neither willing to allow the other to have any relief.
The final quarter kept the pace up, and Ridgeview finally evened out the scoring 19-19 to end the game 76-57. Of note were Fleming Island’s Sebastian Astor with a team high 19 points on the evening, draining all four foul shots and a three-pointer. Aaron Brown followed with 12 points from the field. Also, Fleming Island had 12 of 14 players score points.