Eastside hires new girls basketball coach

Eastside girls basketball coach Lonna Turner
Eastside High School hired Lonna Turner to coach the Rams girls basketball team.
Courtesy of Eastside High School

On Tuesday, one area high school basketball coach stepped down as Blake Golden resigned as the Buchholz boys basketball coach.

But on Wednesday, another area hoops coach stepped up.

Earlier today, Eastside High School announced that former Rams player Lonna Turner had been hired as its new varsity basketball coach.

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Ironically, first-year Eastside Athletics Director Derek Gonsoulin worked alongside her in the fall in a different capacity.

“I didn’t even know who Lonna Turner was in my first year as athletic director, and without telling me her name or who she was, she was working beside me in the concession stand at Eastside football games,” Gonsoulin said. “She bleeds Orange and Green.”

Turner joins the Eastside High staff after recently leading the Lincoln Middle School Lady Terriers (10-3) to a runner-up finish in the Alachua County Middle School championship game.

She returns to the Eastside campus after previously serving as a member of the Rams varsity staff when they won back-to-back district titles in 2018 and 2019, while also serving as the junior varsity head coach.

After graduating from Eastside, she played college basketball at Santa Fe College and Augusta University, where Turner helped the team reach the Division II Sweet 16 in 2016.

Turner, who graduated from Eastside in 2011 and lettered all four years in basketball and track and field, was named second team All-State and earned the coaches award during her tenure at SF College (2011-13).

Augusta University assistant basketball coach, Special Jennings, had high praises for her former player.

“She can sit at any table,” Jennings said. “She is a players’ coach. She’s a winning learner. She’s a sponge. The type who doesn’t act like she knows everything. She tries to soak up everything she can.”

Eastside (7-14) struggled at times this past year under Mark Hickman, who stepped down in February after leading the program the last four years. They did have some success this past season with wins against playoff teams Oak Hall and North Marion (Citra).

Turner said her first goal is to get the community behind the program.

“The ultimate goal for our basketball program is to have the type of program the entire student body and community can be proud of, both on and off the court,” she said.

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Very proud! She is one of those women who you are shocked by her beauty but nod your head in appreciation of how she carry herself. Well raised and I truly believe she will do all she can to make that team a RAMily again. Congrats Ms. Turner!