Russell's 29 points leads Eastside past Hurricanes

COVINGTON -- An explosive second quarter behind Quindarrious Russell's 15 points pushed the Eagles past Monroe Area to begin Region 8-AAAA play with a 77-48 win Tuesday.

While getting a win to start region play is motivation, the players were motivated for other reasons. When the two played in nonregion play in December, a game that Eastside (8-2, 1-0) won 66-59, the Purple Hurricanes told Eastside's players that it'd be a different story the next time they play since a lot of Monroe Area's big players were not on the court yet as the Purple Hurricanes advanced deep in the Class AAAA playoffs.

"They were kind of telling us to wait until we get our other guys back," Eastside head coach Greg Freeman said. "Our guys took it to heart, and it was our first region game so we wanted to issue a statement,"

While Russell, who had 20 points in the first and finished with 29 points before being pulled with two minutes left in the third, was the scoring leader, the win was truly a team effort. The other top scorers were Treyvon Francis and Aaron Flash with eight points each while three other players had seven points.

"We got after it and having (Chavis) Williams out there, we're just a different ball club. He's an intangible you can't measure," Freeman said. "You can't measure how confident the team is when he's on the floor. We had great contributions from Aaron Flash and Jalen Beaver, guys that have been chomping at the bit to get on the floor."

Also making big contributions were Jamal Hardge, Justin Adams, Lamar Johnson and Larry Saxton.

"It was an all-out team effort," Freeman said. "I'm still trying to bring these kids along. If we can rotate 10 or 12 guys and play at that pace, we have a shot at doing some things. If we come out and get this kind of effort, we can be a scary team."

Monroe Area looked like it was going to keep its promise, taking a 3-0 lead to start the scoring. But the Eagles came back, scoring nine unanswered on their way to an 11-5 first-quarter lead. The next two quarters belonged to the home team: Eastside scored 32 and 28 points while holding Monroe Area to 17 and 10 points. With all the regular starters and subs out of the game, the Purple Hurricanes won the final period 10-6.