TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (franchisesportsonline.net) –The Baby Rattlers outlasted North Florida Educational Institute 75-60 on Tuesday night, advancing to the 2A Region 1 Final.
It was the third time in three years that these two teams had met in the Regional Semi-Finals, and as expected, it was a physical game. A total of five players fouled out (two from FAMU DRS and three from NFEI) and at the end of the game, the Eagles only had four players on the court.
“They (NFEI) are a good, athletic bunch,” said FAMU DRS coach Sean Crowe after the game. “And we consider ourselves to be a physical team, so it can be very difficult sometimes to get a clean game.”
Davis and Wooden led the FAMU DRS in scoring with 14 points apiece. Savon Brintley led all scoring with 19 points. Pierce also added 18 points for the Eagles.
It took a little while for the Baby Rattlers to adjust to this physicality. They were held scoreless for the first 2:30 of play, until Khalil Butler scored on a lay up. He was fouled on the play and went on to make the ensuing free throw.
FAMU DRS got rolling as the quarter progressed. Marquis Davis went on a scoring spree, tallying 12 points in the quarter, leading his team to a 20-13 lead after one.
NFEI refused to let themselves get out of the game. Andrew Pierce carried the Eagles on a 7-2 run to start the second quarter, tying the game at 22.
Kaliah Wooden and Kenyatta Colvin responded for the Baby Rattlers by scoring a combined 12 points to close out the half, giving FAMU DRS a 34-28 lead.
The Baby Rattlers extended their lead in the second half. They went on an 8-2 run to start the third quarter, putting them up by 12.
With four minutes left to play, FAMU DRS pushed their lead to 67-48, but NFEI scored eight strait points, cutting the lead back to 12 with 3:10 to play. However, a third Eagle player fouled out shortly after, leaving the seven-man team with only four players on the court. The Baby Rattlers cruised to the win with the man-up advantage.
The Baby Rattlers outrebounded NFEI 22-10 in the second half, which was an improvement from their 17-15 first half advantage.
“I went to a bigger line up (during the second half),” said Crowe. “We have some guys who are big, but versatile enough to pass the ball, so what we did was we went to a double post offense to try and get the ball down low a little more. It worked. We also did a little better on the boards and cut their penetration for the most part, so that kind of worked too.”
“I think the strength of this team is that we have several kids who can do several things,” continued Crowe. “We’ve got bigs that can handle the ball, we’ve got littles that can post up, so we’ve got a lot of versatility. I had to go to a bigger lineup to secure the rebounding and make sure we were a little more physical down in the paint.”
The Baby Rattlers will take on First Academy (Leesburg) in the Regional Finals.