Young Eastside squad looking to improve

COVINGTON - The Eastside Lady Eagles are counting on youthful athleticism with limited senior experience to make the 2007-08 campaign more successful than their previous years.

Of the 15 girls on the Eastside roster, two are juniors and two are seniors.

Two of the freshmen the Lady Eagles are counting on to make them competitive are Jade Cook and Raven Williams.

"Jade Cook is going to be a freshman point guard. Although she's only a freshman she's got game," Lady Eagles head coach Jason Grooms said. "Raven Williams is going to be expected to do some things."

The four upperclassmen are seniors Kiara Smith and Ashley Burtts and juniors Shea Shepherd and Ashley Crew.

While Grooms may not have a lot of experience on his team, what he does have are athletes and depth. The Eastside coach is hoping that he will be able to use both to his advantage.

"Anytime anyone asks me about the team I tell them this is the most athletic team I've had since I've been here. We're going to be very young but that's OK, I like the athleticism and speed," Grooms said.

"I think, too, we have more depth. We have about 10 girls I feel comfortable right now putting in the game. Whereas before we've had quality but not necessarily quantity, playing about seven girls. This year with our depth we'll be able to do different things. We're hoping to play a faster game, bring some more pressure that we might not have been able to do in the past."

Since Grooms has more athletic players to put on the floor, he is hoping that his team will avoid falling apart in the final quarter. The Lady Eagles fell victim to several teams in the final minutes of their games last year.

"A lot of times we're playing teams that were playing three or four more girls than we were. When the fourth quarter came they had more gas left in the tank. When you get tired physically it seems like you mentally bog down too," Grooms said. "Hopefully, with our depth we'll be able to do that to other teams."

Besides being competitive during the region tournament and making it to the next level, the Lady Eagles are hoping to improve on last season's win-loss record.

"We would like to win as many games as possible. I think that everybody's goal is to do well in the region, be competitive in the region and have an opportunity to get out of the region," Grooms said. "Those are all goals we would like to achieve."

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

SideBar: At a glance

' Team: Eastside girls basketball

' Head coach: Jason Grooms

' First game: Eastside plays in the Pope Thanksgiving Tournament beginning today

' First home game: Habersham Central, 6 p.m., Nov. 30