One last test: FAMU DRS composure pushed to the test in regular-season finale victory over Madison County

·5 min read

Following her game against the Cowgirls Saturday night, FAMU DRS senior forward Ameari Logan came off the court with her upper lip swollen.

While defending, a Madison County player spun and hit Logan who was standing in the line of her motion. However, Logan, like many of her other teammates who were on the front line of an aggressive showdown against Madison County, didn't miss a beat.

Logan's injury in ways was a representation of the weekend matchup. FAMU DRS is known for its aggressive press and so is Madison County. With both teams on top of each other throughout the game, it was a small detail that allowed the Rattlers to take over the game.

Through its aggressive press, transition game, and challenge of discipline, FAMU DRS rolled off its 11th win of the season, taking down 1A No. 5 Madison County, 58-31.

"It was a very good win," Rattlers head coach Ericka Cromartie said. "We played well and we're finally putting a full game together."

Turning up the pressure

FAMU DRS senior forward Ameari Logan (14) steals the ball in a game against Madison County on Jan. 22, 2022, at Madison County High School. The Rattlers won 58-31.
FAMU DRS senior forward Ameari Logan (14) steals the ball in a game against Madison County on Jan. 22, 2022, at Madison County High School. The Rattlers won 58-31.

In the first quarter, the game was pretty even, giving a slight edge to DRS. Both teams were finding a lot of their points at the line and both were struggling to figure out the other's press. However, DRS keyed into something that allowed them to take control of the game.

"We realize that they were kind of finicky with the ball handing, and once we see that, we try to take over with our press," Cromartie said. "I told the girls if you keep playing defense, and playing sound defense, you'll start forcing turnovers and getting points."

And that's just about what happened. Madison County battled to get the ball over center court, but either Logan or another Rattler swung in and took possession back. As its press continued to work, DRS began to turn on its jets on its transition game to get baskets.

"We felt like we were playing down to their level," Logan said. "We were doing crazy things. We took a timeout to come together, play together, play the game how we usually play, and get the game over with."

DRS quickly took over the game, but there was an element that played a crucial factor until the end: discipline. In having two teams playing aggressively, the fouls quickly racked up.

DRS finished with 20 teams fouls and Madison County had 25. In addition to keeping cool, free throws ended up deciding the game. DRS downed 15-22 while Madison County went 11-17. Logan, who was constantly driving the paint, shot 8-9.

"Free throws are a big part of the game and we need to know that going down the road to districts, regionals, and Lakeland," Logan said. "My main focus is to make those free throws, get them out of the way, so we can finish the game."

It was a busy and slow game, due to all the whistles, which put the Rattlers' discipline to the test. Whether it was a call from the refs or some shoving for position that got a little too aggressive, the goal was to stay level-headed. The Rattlers looked at those tense moments as tests for the postseason.

"I told them that there's going to be times where we're not going to get the calls. Some of them I agree with and some of them I don't," Cromartie said. "That's part of the game. When you go further down the road, it might get worse, but the way you respond might determine what we do. We're still working on it."

The start of a new season

FAMU DRS junior guard Jade Dubose (2) prepares to layup the ball in a game against Madison County on Jan. 22, 2022, at Madison County High School. The Rattlers won 58-31.
FAMU DRS junior guard Jade Dubose (2) prepares to layup the ball in a game against Madison County on Jan. 22, 2022, at Madison County High School. The Rattlers won 58-31.

FAMU DRS is the first Big Bend team to finish up its regular season, heading into districts with a record of 11-3. Looking back, both Cromartie and Logan gave their squad's performance in the regular season a B+. They felt like they had an impressive showing, but there are little things they could improve on.

"We lost a three-game and we lost them all to very good teams, Florida High and Orange Park," Cromartie said. "We lost them, but we still learned from it. Now we can't lose, it's do or die."

"There were little mistakes that we had throughout the game," Logan said. "The mistakes we had are ones we can't make. We're a good team, but it's little things that we have to do that we shouldn't have to do."

The Saturday matchup was a test in ways for what was next. The calls from refs throughout the game pushed DRS to keep its cool, which make come across as helpful when the postseason comes around.

"Not knowing how the refs were going to be, it took us out of our game just a tad bit," Logan said. "Out body language changed, making Madison come back and score on us a little bit. When that happens, it brings the opposite team back in the game. That test our discipline and got to us a little bit."

As the postseason rolls around, the goal remains the same: to win a state championship. It's been a few years since the Rattlers have come back from Lakeland with a state championship, and they are set on changing that this year.

They're playing dominant basketball and they know they need to stay composed to end this reputation of coming back from Lakeland empty-handed.

"Honestly, we just need to keep our composure," Logan said. "We need to play defense as well. Out composure can get out of hand where things can get hectic and the other team comes up and wins. It mentally gets to us. If we keep our composure and play defense, we should be straight."

Jack Williams covers prep sports for Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at jwilliams@tallahassee.com, on Twitter @jackgwilliams.

FAMU DRS 58, Madison County 31

FAMU DRS (11-3): 12, 20, 14, 12 - 58

Madison County (12-5): 6, 7, 9, 9 - 31

FAMU DRS: Logan 8 8-9 24, Rodgers 5 0-0 10, Young 2 4-6 8, Dubose 2 0-0 7, Reddick 1 3-8 Longley 2 0-0 4, Davis 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 15-23 58.

Madison County: Hopkins 4 1-2 9, Wesley 3 0-2 6, McKnight 1 3-4 5, Demps 1 2-2 4, Long 0 4-6 4, McNeil 1 1-1 3. Totals 10 11-17 31,

3-pointers: FAMU DRS 1 (Dubose 1). Madison County 0.

Fouls: FAMU DRS 20. Madison County 25.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: FAMU DRS composure pushed to the test in victory over Madison County