Homecoming: Men fight to win

With the fans on their side, the Florida A&M Rattlers pushed their way to a 72-62 win against visiting team Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday at Gaither Gymnasium. The game began with the Rattlers in the lead.

There was a missed dunk by Akini F. Akini, a senior center from Tallahassee, which was followed by a rebound by Joe Ballard, a guard from Illinois.

Later on in the first half, Akini had another rebound, followed by a foul. This would later be followed by four additional fouls, which would take him out of the game in the second half.

The Rattlers played strong and fought to stay one step ahead of the Hawks. Ernest Maul, a senior guard from Indiana, said the team utilized teamwork to stay ahead of its opponent.

“I think we played as a team,” Maul said. “When we got down, we bounced back. Every season we have I think we get better. We learn to coordinate with each other. We had a new coach come in and new players. We’re getting it together in the second half of the season.”

Maul scored a total of 12 points. Throughout the game, Leslie Robinson, a guard from Illinois, contributed 19 points to boost FAMU’s score while Larry Jackson, a forward from Chattahoochee, added 11.

Coach Eugene Harris said he is proud of his team and they did a great job in the game.

“What was important was that we stayed in front of them the entire game,” Harris said. “We never gave up the lead. I think the team is really starting to gel together. They are doing the things I am asking them to do and I think that’s important.”

The second half of the game began with a layup by Ballard. There was an assist by Lamar Twitty, a guard from Fort Lauderdale, followed by a steal from Byron Taylor, a guard from Tallahassee. With a minute left in the game, Akini fouled out. Maryland Eastern player Marc Davis received four fouls during the final 20 seconds. The game ended with another layup by Ballard, and the Rattlers won.

Jon Mason, a senior guard, is proud of the team’s victory. He said the team is really beginning to come together.

“We came out and we took care of business,” said Mason, a Panama City native. “We try to make sure that everybody knows where they need to be on the court and what they need to do. We’re starting to learn how each other plays and it’s working out for the better.”

Harris agreed. He said he can see a definite improvement in his team.

“The attitudes have improved,” Harris said. “They talk about the family – the Rattler family. I want all the Rattlers to get involved with the FAMU basketball. We’re all apart of the Rattler nation. We have to shake this thing up and get the people out.”