FLEMING ISLAND - When last Oakleaf and Fleming Island teams met, it was on the football field as Oakleaf was on their way to their crowning as the Kings of Clay. On Friday night, on the hardwood at …
FLEMING ISLAND - When last Oakleaf and Fleming Island teams met, it was on the football field as Oakleaf was on their way to their crowning as the Kings of Clay.
On Friday night, on the hardwood at Fleming Island High School, the visiting Oakleaf Knights stumbled out of the starting blocks, getting down 15-9 to the host Golden Eagles.
“I thought we actually started well, and then they made a run on us” said Knights head Coach Jason Price. “We’re still learning in spots. We have a championship level defense. We just have to get some offense to go with it, and it’s coming.”
The Knights regrouped and made the adjustments needed to stall the Golden Eagles momentum, then take over for the rest of the game. Fleming Island could do no better than close the gap to four points in the third period, then standby as Oakleaf again opened up an 11 point lead.
The Golden Eagles defense pulled out all the stops and slowed the Knights, only to again stall out to finish going down to the Knights 57-52.
“I love the fight in this group,” said Price. “We’ve played high-level defense and tonight we scored. Nice beautiful cuts, layups, rewarding yourself for the hard work you’re playing on the other end.”
Coming into the night, both teams are still getting out of the early season doldrums as the Knights and Golden Eagles each only had a single win so far. The difference maker seemed to be overall games played, with the Knights having six games already (2-4), but the Golden Eagles only saw three opponents (1-2). The evidence was in game time chemistry as Oakleaf took an early timeout to regroup and rebounded, as Fleming Island took several timeouts of their own to make adjustments, that just brought on another issue somewhere else.
After Fleming Island shot out to the 15-9 lead, Price took his first timeout and settled his corps in. The pause was magic as the Knights froze the Golden Eagles at 15 on their way to tying it up 15 each with less than a minute in the first period. Off of a foul shot, the Knights took the lead 16-15.
The Golden Eagles threw up a three pointer, but not before the buzzer screamed. The shot drained, but didn’t count.
In the second, it was all Knights, as Oakleaf choked out Fleming Island for three measly points.
“I have to keep in mind I have to be patient with them” said Fleming Island Head Coach Traavis Chandler. “This is a whole new varsity team. They are trying to grasp what it takes to play at the level we were at the last two years. I think they’ll come along. We have to find that chemistry and energy all the way through.”
At the half, Oakleaf opened it up 33-18.
In the locker room, Chandler settled his crew and dialed them back in. At 5:29, Fleming Island woke up their defense, and the ball finally started dropping with the home team closing the gap 36-23.
With the continued pressure, Fleming Island narrowed it to 36-32 with 2:29 left in the third. The Knights said not so fast as they poured more gas on the fire and used take-aways to run the court, upping the score to 40-32 at the end of the third.
The final eight minutes were fierce as Fleming Island stayed high pressure man-to-man which led to a wave of penalties. Oakleaf used the momentum to open it up 45-34 just two minutes in. The train just kept building speed as Oakleaf drained shots, and Fleming Island’s shots wouldn’t drop, then lost the rebounds to the Knights. With 2:57 left. Oakleaf was holding a dominant 51-42 lead that was closed to 57-52 at the final buzzer.
“We have to continue to baptize ourselves with fire by continuing to play really good competition” said Price. “Records are fine, but you have to get to the district final. You want your team solid, strong, battle tested, and that’s the ultimate goal.”
Oakleaf scoring was led by Davarious Jackson- 13, Markel Allums- 12, and David Compere- 12. Fleming leaders were Colton Zapp with 14, and Antoine Sandy with 13. Fleming Island will go three more games before the Christmas break, Oakleaf two, as both teams look forward to winter tournaments to sharpen the skills, but more important, get the synchronization dialed in.
Fleming Island will host their Battle on the Island Christmas girls and boys basketball tournament Dec. 21-23.
Battle on the Island schedule:
Dec. 21 (Brackets for final two days at sites)
At FIHS GYM
Game 1: Columbia vs. Potters House, 2:30pm
Game 2: Fleming Island vs. Santa Fe, 5:30pm
Game 3: Lake Howell vs. East Lake, 7pm
Game 4: Andrew Jackson vs. Durant (Tampa) 8:30pm
At RHS Gym
Game 1: Bartram Trail vs. Spruce Creek 4pm
Game 2: Matanzas vs. Baker County 5:30pm
Game 3: Ponte Vedra vs. Hawthorne 7pm
Game 4: Ridgeview vs. Countryside (Clearwater) 8:30pm
At Barco Newton YMCA, RHS, FIHS
Game 1: Potters House vs. Hawthorne 1pm (YMCA)
Game 2: Atlantic vs. Bolles 2:30pm (RHS)
Game 3: Jackson vs. Columbia 3:30pm (YMCA)
Game 4: Fleming Island vs. Baker County 4pm (FIHS)