Another city rivalry game had Bud Seymour Gymnasium at Buchholz High School loud and rocking Thursday night.
And this time, their Bobcats came out on top.
Buchholz took the lead late in the first quarter they never relinquished in winning a tough battle against Eastside, 55-43.
Like most city games, this one was at times filled with turnovers and hard fouls with both teams trading punches through most of the game.
But Buchholz (11-11) took the lead late in the opening period and won for the third time in four meetings against the Rams.
“I love playing Eastside because they are going to bump you and grab you,” Buchholz coach Blake Golden said. “You have to be tough to beat them, and we took their best shot from them and finished the game really well.”
Buchholz avenged a 52-39 loss on Dec. 17 at Eastside. The Bobcats continued their good play at Bud Seymour, improving to 6-2 with the only losses at home coming to Gainesville and Santa Fe (Alachua). The Bobcats also avenged an earlier road loss at Columbia (Lake City) by beating the Tigers 60-55 on Tuesday.
“Our home court advantage has been huge,” Golden said. “Our crowd tonight was great, our team is comfortable here, and we hope to be here at home in a playoff situation.”
It was a balanced scoring effort for Buchholz, with seniors Tyler Gainey and Jacob Sterck leading the way with 10 points apiece and senior Ryan Webster chipping in nine points before fouling out with 3:06 left.
Gainey really took over the game late, running through Eastside’s press, and scored five points late including 3-for-4 from the free throw line.
“He is so good in these moments, and he continues to grow up and get better,” said Golden of Gainey. “I’m super proud of him and look forward to what he will do the next three or four weeks.”
Buchholz took the lead halfway through the opening period and opened the lead up to as much as nine points before settling for a 17-10 lead. Gainey led the way with five points and 3-for-4 from the free throw line.
The Bobcats extended the lead to as many as 14 points in the second period and led 30-18 at halftime. Buchholz turned up the defense, allowing Eastside only eight points and zero field goals.
The Rams made a run in the third quarter, getting within four points. But a putback by sophomore Colin Dunmore beat the buzzer and Buchholz led 40-33 going into the final period.
Eastside (9-8) could only get as close as six points the rest of the way. Buchholz also hit five free throws late in the game and held the Rams to 10 points and two field goals in the final quarter.
Senior Shelton Hall led Eastside with 15 points, including 9-for-10 free throws. Freshman Bryan Hayes added 12 points and was 6-for-6 on free throws.
Buchholz now has an entire week off before their second meeting with rival Gainesville next on Jan. 27 at the Purple Palace. Gainesville won the first game at Bud Seymore Gymnasium 69-61 on Jan. 6.
“We are going to have to find a way to beat those guys,” Golden said. “We will probably see them two more times. We may not have all the bullets out there yet, but we are going to be ready for them next Friday night.”
Eastside returns to action tonight at home against North Marion (Citra). The game will be broadcast live on Mainstreet Daily News.com beginning with the pregame show at 7:15 p.m.
Before the varsity game started, the Bobcats honored Bob Horodyski, who coached the Buchholz boys basketball team from 1993-2020 and accumulated more than 400 wins.