The Buchholz boys basketball team looks to carry over the momentum of last week’s win against rival Eastside to this week’s Christmas holiday tournament at Fleming Island (Orange Park).
The Bobcats defeated the Rams, 47-33, last Thursday to end an eight-game losing streak in the series.
Against the Rams, sophomore Palmer Walton came off the bench and hit two 3-pointers in the opening quarter and he finished with a team-high 11 points. Buchholz had balanced scoring with senior Hayden Findley scoring nine points, followed by junior Taybin Riggins with eight, senior Darryus Boyd with seven and junior Tyler Gainey with six.
“The team is really starting to blend together,” said first-year Buchholz coach Blake Golden. “We have been battling some sickness and bumps and bruises, but the guys are buying in and accepting coaching.”
There are a total of 16 teams playing in two divisions today through Thursday at the Battle on the Island.
The Bobcats (3-4) are playing in the Green Championship Division, an eight-team bracket which includes Bradford (Starke), who will face Baker County (Glen St. Mary) at 6:45 p.m. tonight.
The field also includes Ribault (Jacksonville), Buchholz’s opponent this afternoon at 3:45 p.m., along with Brunswick (GA), Fletcher (Neptune Beach), Lakeland, and Ridgeview.
“Excited to play in this event,” Golden said. “It’s always nice to spend some time together away from Gainesville. This is a chance for us to get closer as teammates.”
Buchholz will face a program today that is loaded with tradition. The Class 5A Trojans (5-2) are third all-time with 77 FHSAA tournament games won.
This year’s team is led by senior shooting guard Marquis Harris who is averaging 14.6 points per game, and sophomore point guard Caleb Williams (13.6 ppg), who leads the team with 7.6 assists per game and is second with four steals per contest.
“Ribault is a team that plays with incredible pace and confidence,” Golden said. “Their point guard is one of the best players I’ve seen on film this year.”
The winner of the Bradford-Baker County game will play the winner of Buchholz-Ribault on Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. in the winners’ bracket.
Golden said there are a few keys to beating the Trojans and possibly winning a championship.
“We need to limit our live ball turnovers and control the pace,” Golden said. “Also, in tournament-style games, it’s the team that comes most ready to play.”
Tuesday, Dec. 21
9:45 a.m. – Lakeland vs. Ridgeview (Orange Park)
11:45 a.m. – Brunswick (GA) vs. Fletcher (Neptune Beach)
3:45 p.m. – Buchholz (Gainesville) vs. Ribault (Jacksonville)
6:45 p.m. – Bradford (Starke) vs. Baker County (Glen St. Mary)
Wednesday, Dec. 22
9:45 a.m. – Brunswick (GA)/Fletcher (Neptune Beach) loser vs. Lakeland/Ridgeview (Orange Park) loser
12:45 p.m. – Buchholz (Gainesville)/Ribault (Jacksonville) loser vs. Bradford (Starke)/Baker County (Glen St. Mary) loser
3:15 p.m. – Brunswick (GA)/Fletcher (Neptune Beach) winner vs. Lakeland/Ridgeview (Orange Park) winner
5:15 p.m. – Buchholz (Gainesville)/Ribault (Jacksonville) loser vs. Bradford (Starke)/Baker County (Glen St. Mary) loser
Thursday, Dec. 23
9:45 a.m. – 7th-Place Game
12:45 p.m. – Consolation Championship
3:45 p.m. – 3rd-Place Game
6:45 p.m. – Championship Game