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Eastside splits with Habersham
Boys hammer Raiders 59-30 while girls fall in close game

COVINGTON - The Eastside boys played their style of basketball game and it showed as the Eagles beat Habersham Central 59-30 on Friday night.

The Lady Eagles, on the other hand, fell victim to the Lady Raiders' almost perfect shooting in the opening period of their 60-54 loss.

The Eastside boys got everybody involved as 11 of the 12 players who dressed put points on the board. Neal Lattimore paced the Eagles with 13 points, followed by Artis Clanton, who added 11.

"We asked each of those guys when they stepped off the court to be able to tell us what they did. We're trying to keep people focused," Eastside boys coach Michael Gerald said. "We want everybody to have their opportunity. For the most part, we were able to do that. We want to build some consistency; that's what we're looking for."

Eastside set the tempo of the game early and continued to dominate throughout the first period.

Leading 20-5 to start the second quarter, the Eagles' offense stalled, scoring only six points. However, their defense prevented the Raiders from gaining much ground. The teams went into the locker room with Eastside leading Habersham Central 26-13.

"I just wanted us to come out and execute defensively and not get off to a slow, sluggish start and execute offensively, also. I thought we did that for the most part," Gerald said.

Eastside began getting more people involved in the third quarter as six people combined for 19 points while holding Habersham Central to nine points.

Eastside cruised through the final eight minutes, never giving the Raiders a glimmer of hope to get back into the contest.

GIRLS

Habersham Central 60, Eastside 54

The Lady Raiders started the game with a hot hand as they scored on 12 of their first 14 possessions to take a 27-8 first-quarter lead.

Despite being down by 19 points, the Lady Eagles continued to fight their way back.

"We've got a real scrappy group that's not going to give up; that's encouraging," Eastside girls coach Jason Grooms said. "It could've been easy for us to give up at that point, but we stuck in there. I told them that if we cut it to 10 by halftime we might have a shot, and we did cut it to 10. All those things are a sign of maturity."

Eastside closed the gap to nine points, 32-23, by the end of the first half.

Habersham Central made some adjustments to start the third quarter, building its lead to 15 at 51-36, to end the third period.

Not ready to give up, the Lady Eagles fought back to tie the game at 54 with 2:01 left to play.

But the Eastside girls ended up turning the ball over twice. Eastside was forced to foul Habersham Central, enabling the Lady Raiders to score four of their final six points from the free throw line.

Free throw shooting was a contributing factor to Eastside's loss as it only made only 22 of 39 attempts at the line, a 56 percent mark.

"The games we were playing over the break, we shot free throws exceptionally well; we were about 70 percent," Grooms said. "We have a team that, with our aggressiveness, we're going to get to the line a lot. It's something we have to take advantage of."

The Lady Eagles had three players in double figures. Raven Williams and Ashley Burtts leading the way with 16 points, followed by Jade Cook with 15.

"You score 54 points, you feel you have pretty good chance of winning," Grooms said. "I'm encouraged by the fact that we're scoring."

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