Eastside looking to build complete team

COVINGTON - The days where one person scores 20-plus points with the rest of the team in single digits could be over if Eastside coach Michael Gerald has his way.

Rather than put a bull's-eye on one person making them a target, Gerald is hoping to make everyone the go-to guy.

"I feel that with all the guys coming back it's going to be a total team effort. We're trying to get away from focusing on one or two kids and have everybody contribute and play their part. Hopefully, that's going to make a difference this year," Gerald said. "We're trying to find bits and pieces, trying to put a good group together and then have a good support group behind them."

For the past two seasons the Eagles have graduated between six to eight players. All that loss of experience finally caught up to them last season where they went 9-17 overall and under .500 in region play.

"When you lose seven or eight kids in two consecutive graduating classes, it catches up to you. I felt like we would compete, which I thought we did, we just came up short on several occasions," Gerald said. "This year I'm hoping that with the experiences that we went through last year we've learned that it's going to take a lot more than what we were able to give last year for us to have a chance to win."

The one thing that happens with the loss of experienced players is that lack of consistency. That is something that Gerald is hoping to get back.

"Many times I've had other coaches say you guys played hard, but I went back and looked at the tapes and I didn't see it. I thought there were a lot of deficiencies in what we were trying to do," Gerald said. "We want to be solid every night. That's what I'm looking for. Offensively, we want to spread it around. We don't want to rely on one person. We're working toward that."

The Eagles have at least six key players coming back from last year's team with two additional players hoping to make a difference.

Coming back from last season are Artis Clanton, Neal Latimore, Rashad Hill, Andrico Bailey, Cameron Robinson and JaCorey Maddox.

Hoping to make an impact to the team this year are Gabe Mathis and Brian Davaugh.

While Mathis is not new to the team, having played at Eastside for his freshman and sophomore years, he's back after playing at Stephenson last season.

However, Davaugh, who stands at 6-foot-11, is new to the team. Although he will have to learn Gerald's system as he goes along, the Eastside coach feels that he will be able to impact the team.

"I want him to be able to help us with the rebounding and score when he has the opportunity. He's new and it's going to be on-the-job training. It's going to be a new world for him. He's not used to playing with guys that can get up and up and down the court quick," Gerald said.

While the Eagles have been one of the top teams in the Region 8-AAAA in the past, Gerald is hoping that with consistency and hard work they will be there again.

"We're just trying to get better than we were last year," Gerald said. "We're just trying to get better every game out. If we do that I think we'll have a chance to be there in the end."

Eastside plays in the Pope Thanksgiving Tournament beginning Saturday. The Eagles' first home game is Nov. 30 against Habersham Central.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com

SideBar: At a glance

Team: Eastside boys basketball

Head coach: Michael Gerald

Last year's record: 9-17

First game: Eastside will play in the Pope Thanksgiving Tournament starting Saturday.