WATKINSVILLE - Eastside's boys basketball team could never get on track as an unbalanced amount of fouls and turnovers doomed the Eagles in a 66-51 loss to Franklin County in the semifinals of the Region 8-AAA playoffs Friday.
"We try to find out in each game how the officials are going to call the game. We're usually aggressive when it comes to fouling," Eastside head coach Michael Gerald said. "Most of the fouls we get are because we're too aggressive trying to take the ball. But I haven't seen where we get so many fouls just trying to block somebody out."
Toward the latter part of the second period, the Lions were already in double-bonus while Eastside was still waiting to get its turn at the free-throw line.
Eastside was called 11 times in the first half to Franklin County's five fouls.
Despite not being able to get a steady tempo in their game, a late Eagles run in the first quarter cut the Lions' lead to 14-11.
However, the fouls and turnovers took their toll in the second period as Franklin County took a 34-23 halftime lead.
The Lions' Demario Mayfield had a hot hand in the first half scoring 17 points, eight coming from free throws.
Mayfield led all scorers with 33 points and was 12 of 16 from the free-throw line.
Eastside's Cameron Robinson finished the opening half, and the game, with 10 points.
"He took some shots, but the ball didn't go in. You hope when you play on a neutral floor you make some of those," Gerald said. "Unfortunately we didn't."
Even though the fouls were evened out in the second half, turnovers still plagued the Eagles as Franklin County was able to extend their lead to 51-34 heading into the final eight minutes.
Despite being down by 17 points, the Eagles never played without heart or purpose.
"These guys have always played to the end and I'm really proud of them for that. If we didn't play that way we wouldn't be in the position we're in," Gerald said.
Pacing the Eagles on the scoreboard with a double-double was Neal Latimore, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
"I think he's been steady all year," Gerald said. "They recognized that if he got going it would be a tough night. They tried to take him out of the game, but I didn't do a good job of getting him some good shots."
Also scoring in double figures for the Lions was Jonathan Pruitt, who had 14 points.
The Eagles play today in the consolation game at 5:30 p.m. against the loser of the Hart County/Elbert County game.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.