Eagles face top teams in scrimmages

COVINGTON - The Eastside boys basketball team saw some top-notch competition in its summer practices.

Some of their opponents included state playoff teams Clarke Central and Hart County.

Clarke Central played in the first round of the Class AAAA tournament, while Hart County made it to the Final Four in Class AAA.

"We had a chance to play Hart this summer," Eastside coach Michael Gerald said. "They're a very good basketball team. It was good because we were able to measure against a quality team. I thought we played well against them. They are one of the teams that are going to be at the very top.

"They (Clarke Central) have a really good talented group. They ended our season this year, but I like playing against them. I thought we really competed well against them. Obviously, you don't play those games under real game situations, but I thought our kids played well and extremely hard."

Two veterans who had good camps were Cameron Robinson and Rashad Hill.

With the loss of several key players off last year's team, Gerald knows that Robinson and Hill are going to have to take on leadership roles.

Gerald also liked seeing some of the younger players on the court and watching them go up against some high-level competition.

"We're going to be replacing more kids than we thought," Gerald said. "Some of the kids that were supposed to come back are concentrating on playing football. We got a real good chance to take a look at some of the young guys that we're going to have to play for us. What we were trying to do was get some of those guys experience in the summer by playing as much as possible in the summer.

"I know it's going to be different once we start. They have to get in a real game situation. Maybe that will take a little of the apprehension away from them. I feel like it's going to be a team effort. The people that aren't as prepared are going to have to step in and play a lot right away."

Besides local teams, Eastside was also able to experience some out-of-state competition at the camp held at Truett-McConnell College.

Given what he saw against Hart County and Clarke Central, Gerald feels comfortable as the Eagles prepare for Class AAA competition next year.

"I like what I saw this summer," Gerald said. "We've got work to do but I think that we'll be able to compete in that region. We'll be there when it really counts. We're not going in there thinking that because we came down from (Class) AAAA that we're going to be at the very top. We'll have to take care of business on our home court and try to steal a few on the road this year."

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