Tuesday night’s Eastside-Santa Fe boys basketball game featured two teams that were headed in opposite directions.
The visiting Raiders carried a 16-game winning streak into the game, while the host Rams had lost six in a row.
The trend continued as Santa Fe (19-5) took advantage of a quick start and cruised to a 67-38 Class 4A-District 5 win to spoil Senior Night for the Rams.
“I think we came out in the first half with playoff intensity,” said Santa Fe coach Glen Banks. “I told the guys before the game ‘don’t take this game lightly because stats and records go out the window when you play these kinds of games,’ and they took that and ran with it.”
Run they did, thanks to senior guard Don’trell Jenkins, who drilled three 3-pointers in the opening quarter and finished with a game-high 20 points.
Jenkins’ second trey gave Santa Fe an 8-0 lead with 5:48 to play in the opening quarter as the Raiders never trailed in the game.
“He set the tone,” Banks said. “That’s what you need your leader to do. I knew when he made those first two he was going to be pretty good tonight and it just rubbed off on everybody else.”
Especially senior Makhi Lewis.
Lewis (16 points) made three 3s in the second quarter to help the Raiders pull away.
“When we get Makhi going and Braylon (Guyden), we’re tough to beat,” Banks said. “When we’re hitting 3s, it’s hard to guard. We’re hard to guard.”
Lewis and senior M.J. Green hit back-to-back 3s as Santa Fe built a 37-16 lead in the second quarter.
A 3-pointer by Guyden extended it to 42-16 before Eastside junior Quashawn Brittingham banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 42-19 at the half.
Santa Fe hit 10 3-pointers in the first half to just one for Eastside.
“Santa Fe came out hitting shots,” said Eastside coach Pop Williams. “They came out ready to play. Don’trell, you’re not going to stop him. He got them going and then everybody else started filling in.”
Eastside did weather the storm early.
After the Raiders built an 8-0 lead just two minutes into the game, Rams’ senior Shelton Hall countered with seven points, including an and-one to cut the deficit to 13-11 with 3:42 to play in the first quarter.
In fact, freshman Bryan Hayes tied it at 13-all before Santa Fe closed the quarter with a 5-0 run.
The Rams struggled offensively in the second quarter. A basket by freshman Lemarion Houston was the only field goal in the second quarter until Brittingham’s bank shot.
“The turnovers (24) that we had really, really hurt us,” Williams said. “Some of them were unforced turnovers.”
Hall got into foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul with 3:36 to play in the third quarter and he fouled out with 7:38 to play, but he still led the Rams in scoring with 10 points.
Eastside (9-13) will play its regular season finale on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at rival GHS.
It will be Senior Night for the Hurricanes (18-6), who defeated Newberry, 64-55, on the road on Tuesday.
Thursday’s game will be broadcast online (audio only) at MainStreetDailyNews.com beginning at 7:15 p.m.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” said Williams, whose team lost at home to GHS, 48-40, on Jan. 13. “Their seniors are going to want to go out (with a win) so we’ll prepare tomorrow the best we can.”
Meanwhile, the regular season came to an end for Santa Fe, which won its sixth straight in the series.
The No. 1 seed Raiders will host either Keystone Heights or Eastside in next week’s district semifinals.
“We’re excited,” Banks said. “I told the guys it’s a new season. Whatever happened in the regular season is over. I want to have that mindset going forward.”