Andrew Miller, Correspondent
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Godby overpowered Rickards by a final of 65-50 on Tuesday night, advancing them to the next round of the state playoffs.
They played classic Godby basketball for almost the entire game, full-court pressing their opponent on defense and attacking the paint on offense until Rickards got into foul trouble.
Rickards (19-9) tried giving Godby (25-1) a taste of their own medicine with full-court pressure to start off the game, but it did not seem to slow Godby down.
“They pressed up on us all night, so the lane was open for us to attack,” Godby point guard Montre Edwards said.
Instead, the Cougars jumped out to a commanding lead in the first quarter—one it never relinquished—holding the Raiders scoreless for the first six minutes of the game.
Godby’s lead swelled in the second quarter as the home team attacked the paint relentlessly. Senior center Corbin Merritt had a thunderous dunk and subsequent block on the defensive end with four and a half minutes to go in the quarter, which is a testament to the team’s insistent hustle and aggressiveness.
At one point, Godby led 26-5. Rickards responded with an 8-0 run to get them back into the game at 28-13 with a minute left in the half, including a jump shot as the halftime buzzer sounded. Godby led 29-15 at halftime.
The momentum stayed with Godby in the second half. They immediately came out on a 13-6 run to double Rickards’ score 42-21, a product of continuing to force turnovers and draw fouls. At times, Rickards looked frantic and could not effectively set up their offense.
Many of the Raiders’ offensive woes can be attributed to the Cougars’ unshakeable defense. The Edwards twins kept tight pressure on the ball and Merritt was bothering shots all night, a tough combination to overcome when your bench is not as deep as your opponent’s.
“We played tremendous defense,” Godby head coach Andy Colville said. “To come out here and play that well from start to finish, I think we proved that we are one of the better—if not the best—teams in this area.”
When you take a step back and look at what Colville and his squad have accomplished this year, it is hard not to be impressed.
“A lot of them didn’t play last year.” Colvile said. “And none of them played two years ago when we were undefeated. I think that says a lot about our program and our kids, to have the chance to go back to Lakeland with not one player that was on that [2014-15] team.”
Godby advances to the regional semifinals against Ribault, where they will play on February 24 for a trip to the Final Four.