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Eastside has fewer obstacles
Lady Eagles' hope region change leads to playoffs

COVINGTON - A change in classification and region from 8-AAAA to 8-AAA will improve the chances of the Eastside girls making a run at the state basketball playoffs, but those two things alone won't make it easier for the Lady Eagles.

"In the old region, there were 13 teams, and in the new region, there are eight," Eastside coach Jason Grooms said. "As far as percentages go, this gives us a better opportunity of achieving our goal of getting to the state tournament."

However, Region 8-AAA features some strong competition, including Franklin County, which has reached the Class AAA semifinals the past two seasons.

This year, the Lady Eagles return four starters - senior Ashley Crew, junior Carmen Robinson and sophomores Jade Cook and Raven Williams.

Grooms also has a few first-year players that he feels will make an impact this season.

"The new players will give us depth and some extra ball-handlers that will help us in the open court and under pressure," he said. "We are expecting several players to contribute in replacing players that we lost, including (senior) J'Quyra Moncur-Blue, (juniors) Antonia Mullins, Ieisha Williams and (sophomore) Paige Alexander."

The other players on the team are senior Shay Shepherd, juniors Connethia Goshay and Charmell Stephens, sophomores Bria Anthony and Keresa Howard and freshman Alexis Somerset.

Even though Eastside will have a young team, Grooms said that each player will be able to contribute and give the Eagles something they have not had in a while - depth.

During the offseason, the Lady Eagles targeted three critical areas for improvement.

"We have been working hard in the weight room, participated in a offseason conditioning program and work on our shooting to try to obtain this goal," Grooms said.

While the team has improved its depth as well as its physical strength for this season, one part of the game it could not prepare for was the unknown of playing new teams.

Grooms said the Lady Eagles' biggest weakness will be playing in a region where they will be playing teams for the first time.

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