Post-game scowls from head coaches are reserved for a little later in the high school basketball season. Not a tipoff classic.
Most understand there will be a fair amount of sloppy ball-handling, poor shot selection and lack of on-court chemistry so early in the year.
But a victory is still a victory, and Florida High was able to get the best of FAMU High, 54-48, Tuesday evening at Chiles’ Tip-Off Tournament.
“We’ve had our football guys for one day,” Seminoles coach Al Blizzard said. “So, it’s trying to get the guys on the same page.”
Florida High was already playing without its top player, senior Landus Anderson, who slammed his left hand in a door and will be out a couple weeks, which might be fine except Anderson only uses one arm because of a birth injury.
Without his inside-outside presence and overall length, the Seminoles needed a shooter to emerge. Enter Tajae Anderson, who scored a team-high 16 points, as the team improved following a sub-par, turnover-prone first quarter.
“We had to slow down because the jitters are up and you’re nervous because you haven’t played in a while,” Tajae Anderson said. “You have to calm down.”
FAMU High was tied after the first quarter, 7-7, as both teams adjusted to tempo and attempted to get in sync.
Jacari Dupont had eight of his game-high 14 rebounds in the period for the Rattlers, but Florida High opened up an eight-point edge at halftime.
“We’ve got to get our guards rebounding more,” Rattlers coach Gene Granger said. “Everything is about the team contributing, whether it’s defense, rebounding, making free throws. Jacari can’t be the only presence on the defensive end, and we can’t have just one offensive player. Everybody has to do it.”
FAMU High briefly took a two-point lead in the third quarter, but the Seminoles closed on a 7-0 run, capped by Derrick Bundage’s 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Florida High was able to fend off its opponent the rest of the way with second-chance points in the paint and a better free-throw shooting performance.
Erique Lockwood and Ronnie Harrison each scored eight points for the Seminoles, while the Rattlers were led by 16 from Tre Anderson and nine from Jalen Blackmen.
“They played hard and they shared the ball,” Blizzard said. “That’s the part I liked.”