When jumpers aren’t falling, layups aren’t going in and passes aren’t crisp, the fallback for a basketball team has to be hustle.
But for Florida High, it took three quarters Friday night for its boys’ basketball team to make that realization, and by then it was too late.
East Gadsden turned the ball over 26 times in Friday’s Capital City Holiday Classic at TCC, yet its aggressiveness in rebounding and hustle plays amounted to a 50-43 victory.
“We didn’t play with any sense of urgency, first half especially,” Seminoles coach Al Blizzard. “We didn’t get after it until the last seven minutes, missed a lot of layups that could have made it really close.”
After a five-point second quarter, Florida High (6-4) found itself down 11 with leading scorer Landus Anderson receiving little to no offensive touches.
Anderson took it upon himself to get the ball, picking six second-half steals to eke out 13 points and get the Seminoles within striking distance. But others missed the front end of three straight one-and-one free throws, hurting the cause to open the fourth quarter.
“I don’t know why we do this,” Anderson said. “We’re a great team. If we come out playing like we did in the second half, no one can touch us. But I really can’t wait to play them again. We won’t start off slow like we did tonight.”
Credit East Gadsden (8-0) for its aggressiveness, driving to the basket to get hard baskets instead of settling for jump shots. Only the turnovers were uncharacteristic.
“That’s not like us,” Jaguars coach Dimitric Salters said. “We probably only have nine a game. We played hard on one end, but not the other. But we adjusted to how the game was called. It was a good game for us.”
Nicholas Byrd scored 14 points for East Gadsden, while center Bobby Dukes scored 12 to go with 17 rebounds.
Anderson was the only double-digit scorer for Florida High, which hadn’t played a game in two weeks and hopes to quickly shake the rust off.
“We can’t be saying ‘State champs’ in our breakouts and not play like it,” Anderson said. “We have to play like it, and right now we’re not playing up to our potential.”