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Eagles hoping to build on last season's success

AT A GLANCE

2012-13 Eastside Eagles Boys Basketball

• Head Coach: Gregory Freeman (second year)

• Last season: 15-14 overall, 11-5 Region 4-AAAA

• New region: 8-AAAA

• First game: Tuesday, Nov. 27, against Greene County

• Returning starters: Quindarrious Russell (senior), Chavis Williams (senior), Anthony Henderson (junior) and Treyvon Francis (junior).

COVINGTON — The Eastside boys 2011-12 basketball season was the first time since their 2004-05 season, where they went 16-11, that they ended with a winning record. After going 15-14 last year, head coach Gregory Freeman is hoping to improve their record by at least 10 games.

Freeman has experience in improving teams in his second year. After taking Lamar County to 17-12 record in his first year, the Trojans were 27-4 the following year and made it to the Elite 8. However, Freeman knows that it won’t be easy since his opponents will not take them lightly anymore.

“I really think that nobody we play will underestimate us simply because of the year we had last year and with the returning players I have,” Freeman said. “With that being said, I know we have to work harder since we’re no longer looked at as the easy win.”

The Eagles will have a good base to build on as they have four returning starters from last year’s team. Coming back are seniors Quindarrious Russell and Chavis Williams and juniors Treyvon Francis and Anthony Henderson. Francis has already been getting looks from several D-I schools including UNC-Charlotte and George Mason.

While the core group of four players is set, the fifth player is going to depend on who the Eagles are playing. Also giving the Eagles a chance to reach the coach’s goal of winning 10 more games than last season is the fact the nine of the of the 15 players they plan on dressing have varsity experience.

“We have our core group of four then the fifth guy is like a revolving door depending on who we play,” Freeman said. “We have Jamal Hardge who’s a scrapper and has become a better shooter. We have some other guys like James Russell who has size, and Jomondi Smith. There are a lot of people I can go to.”

Besides winning a minimum of 25 games, the other goals Freeman and the team have come up with include winning a region championship, something that has eluded the Eagles, and making it past the first round of the playoffs. While winning the Newton County championship would not be objectionable, it is not something that will make or break their season.

“I’ve gotten them to understand that we’re just trying to be champions of Newton County, we’re trying to be champions of the state. I understand how it’s very important to beat Alcovy and Newton, but if we beat them and lose in the (region) tournament we’ll be home in February,” Freeman said.

While the Eagles played a pressure-style offense last year, this season they plan on puting more pressure than before. One way Freeman has made this possible is by changing the menality of his players which will end up increasing their overall abilty.

“I’m still in the phases of trying to increase the skill level of the kids. There are a lot that don’t understand that you play in the summer to do that. You don’t come in October to do it, it just doesn’t happen. We’re still fighting that recreation basketball mentality that some of the kids have,” Freeman said. “But fortunately, the core group of kids have bought into it and some of the kids have really improved their strength and ability to run and play the tempo we want to play.

“We want the fans to come out and see this team. We’re going to be exciting to watch because of the skill level of the guys. It was a shock for people to see them develop so quickly because we started off rough last year.”