Raiders get rough ride in Clay tourney

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 1/6/21

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - The Clay High Christmas Basketball Tournament showcased a handful of strong boys teams this year with Concord Academy of North Carolina, Nease and Ponte Vedra and Orange Park’s …

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Raiders get rough ride in Clay tourney

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - The Clay High Christmas Basketball Tournament showcased a handful of strong boys teams this year with Concord Academy of North Carolina, Nease and Ponte Vedra and Orange Park’s Raiders bringing an air of tournament play to Green Cove Springs.

“We try each year to bring better teams in hopes of expanding the reputation of the tournament and I get phone calls from around the state and into the southeast about teams wanting to play in Florida,” said Clay High coach and tournament director Jared Moses, also head boys basketball coach and athletic director plus concession stand supervisor and head floor sweeper. “We put our tournament out on social media and it speaks volumes about the tournament’s growth for the nine years we have hosted it. We had teams from Illinois and Alabama call wanting to get out of their states, but the COVID restrictions have made that tough. I’m proud of where the tournament is at.”

For Orange Park, who faced off with Concord and Ponte Vedra in their draw did not fare well on the scoreboard, but coach Derek Kurnitsky saw some things from the level of play that he will be able to address in the upcoming return to regular season play.

“We have to improve from 25 turnovers and staying discipline,” said Orange Park coach Derek Kurnitsky. “We have to play a little more under control. Ponte Vedra and Concord made us play out of control. We have to not get rattled.”Orange Park lost to Concord in their second round game to play Ponte Vedra for third place, but lost 65-49 to finish fourth.

Nease (8-3) eventually beat previously unbeaten (11-1) Ponte Vedra in their semifinal 43-41 in a tough match of local powers before Concord (10-4) won the tournament title in a romp 74-39.

In the Battle of the Island hosted by Fleming Island and played at three venues; FIHS, Ridgeview High School and the Barco Newton YMCA, Fleming Island (5-6) opened with wins over Santa Fe and Lake Howell bvefore losing three to Potter’s House Christian, Olympia of Orlando, Edgewater and Boone.

Ridgeview opened with a 65-47 win over Hope Christian Academy before losing 54-49 to Hawthorne and 55-47 to Bartram Trail in close games.

Oakleaf traveled to Palatka’s Jarvis Williams Tournament and came home with a rugged just-miss 65-62 overtime loss to host Palatka (8-2) as the Knights have steadily improved after a win over Fleming Island earlier in the season. David Compere was top scorer against Palatka with 20 points wiht Markel Allums adding 11.

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