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Eagles reach tournament title game

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

LOGANVILLE -- It took an extra four minutes, but Eastside will play for a tournament championship.

The Eagles held Monroe Area to one point in overtime, winning 72-67 in the semifinals of the Walnut Grove Christmas Tournament to set up a title game matchup against either Walnut Grove or Winder-Barrow tonight at 8 p.m.

Eastside (4-7) held a 51-40 lead after Chavis Williams made a pair of free throws with 3:35 left in regulation, but the Hurricanes chipped away at the deficit and got to within 64-62 after a steal and a layup from Ken Jackson.

Anthony Henderson made a bucket to push the lead out to five points, but Jackson had a conventional three-point play, and after Eastside turned the ball over on a five-second call on an inbounds play, Jackson got his own rebound and his put back at the buzzer tied the game at 66-66.

The Eagles got field goals from Williams and Quindarruis Russell in the extra session and two free throws from Ben Miller (team-high 26 points), while Jackson missed a pair of field goal attempts.

Jackson led all scorers with 31 points, 15 coming in the fourth quarter.Ola 60, Heritage boys 56Deonta Nocks made 3-of-4 free throws in the final 30 seconds as Ola hung on to defeat Heritage in a loser's bracket game in the Walnut Grove Christmas Tournament.

It was the Patriots' seventh consecutive loss and six straight have come by five points or less. Heritage (2-9) will play North Oconee in the seventh place game today at 11 a.m.

Heritage tied the score on two occasions in the fourth quarter, once on Mark Wilkerson's three-point play, and with 4:33 left when Jordan Martin hit one of two free throws to make it 54-54. Trailing 57-54, the Patriots got a pair of free throws from Terrell Flowers and had the ball with just over a minute to play, but missed two shots before Nicks iced the win at the other end.

"It's so frustrating," Heritage coach Drew Williams said. "It is encouraging that we're this close. You worry, losing so many close games, about kind of losing the team. I don't know ... it's the frustrating thing about coaching high school basketball, you can't get inside their heads (and) I think we've got some guys who don't completely understand their role and that comes down to me."

Ola (8-6) led by as may as six points in the first 16 minutes as Nicks and Ty Bull combined for 19 first-half points. Heritage's 9-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Andre Harris, gave the Patriots a 46-45 advantage with 1:24 to play in the third. That was the Patriots' last lead.

"We'll play a quarter really well as a team, it's just up and down," Williams said. "If we can put together two good quarters, we win a basketball game. I don't know."

Nicks led all scorers with 20 points, while Heritage got 17 points from Flowers and eight assists from Martin.Eastside girls 51, Monroe Area 29Eastside's girls dominated Monroe Area to reach today's fifth-place game. The Eagles frustrated Monroe all game, forcing 43 turnovers and allowed four points in both the first and fourth quarters.

Eastside (6-4), which snapped a two-game losing streak, had two long second-half runs which helped turn a two-point halftime cushion into a blowout. After Monroe (1-9) got to within 20-16 on a bucket by Traneer Doty, Eastside scored the next 12 points to take control. Monroe ended the third on an 8-0 run to get the deficit back to single digits at 34-25, but the Eagles began the final quarter on a 16-0 run to build their largest lead at 50-25, while the Hurricanes went 6:40 without scoring. Eastside will play Winder-Barrow today at 12:30 p.m.

The Heritage girls played Walnut Grove in the semifinals, which ended too late for this edition.