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Eastside squads survive scare against Chestatee

COVINGTON -- It was a battle until the end but somehow both Eastside squads came back in the final minutes of the game to sweep Chestatee with a pair of wins in Region 8-AAAA action on Friday.

The Eastside boys made it a sweep with a 71-69 win while the girls waited until the final three seconds to score the winning basket in their 45-44 victory.BOYSIt seemed like the Eagles (12-4, 4-0) were taken back a bit, unsure of Chestatee's subbing. The War Eagles (8-11, 3-1) had three sets of players that were coming in every few minutes. Also giving the Eagles a reason to pause was Chestatee's ability to shoot the ball from well beyond the 3-point line.

Eastside trailed by nine points before a couple of baskets in the final 15 seconds of the first half cut the lead to 45-38 at the break.

"I think they shocked us as to how they came out. But I told them in (the locker room) that these guys are going to shoot the ball from deep," Eastside head coach Gregory Freeman said.

While Eastside's offense continued to thrive, the Eagles defense came out in the second half and shut them down. Chestatee, which is averaging 35 points a half, was held to 24 points.

Eastside took the 48-47 lead at the midway point of the third frame on an Anthony Henderson 3-pointer. After several lead changes, Eastside kept the lead early in the fourth quarter and never let it go. Of course they came close a few times, especially late in the game. Leading 70-69, Chestatee had a couple of shots that could have gone in if not for Chavis Williams blocking them.

"That's Chavis Williams. I've been screaming about him since I've been here," Freeman said. "I have to have some people that come off the bench and help. Larry Saxton did a great job for us defensively."

After Treyvon Francis split a pair of free throws to make it 71-69, Chestatee had the ball with 19 seconds on the clock. That was when Francis, who had 18 points, became a defensive player, stealing the ball with less than 10 seconds left on the clock to secure the win.

"With Treyvon, he's only going to get better. He's only a junior and still learning how I want him to play this game," Freeman said.

Quindarrius Russell led the Eagles in scoring with 26 points with Jamal Hardge also hitting double figures with 10.

The game was a lot closer than it needed to be as the Eagles were 9 of 22 from the free throw line including going 5-for-15 in the second half.

"We missed a lot of shots. Against a team that shoots the ball well it can come back to haunt you. Our defense shut them down in the second half," Freeman said. "It was a great test for us, a great test. Good teams win even when they play bad."GIRLSEastside head coach Matthew Jackson drew up a play to win the game but the shot wasn't there. So Jymara Smith did what she normally does. She bounced the ball off a defender. The next time was different as Smith hit the winning shot with 3.5 seconds left to play.

The Lady Eagles (10-7, 4-0) put themselves in a bad position with their lack of rebounding and poor shooting. But just as Eastside had their share of bad breaks, Chestatee (15-4, 3-1), who led by its many six points with less than three minutes left to play, also kept Eastside in the game with a charge and a travel call.

"This was an awful game. We helped them a lot with our play. But I think this win was a confidence builder even though we're not executing," Jackson said.

The Lady War Eagles were able to get the ball just past midcourt on a long pass before going out of bounds off an Eastside player. But Eastside's Alexis Stokes, who had four fouls in the game, blocked the Chestatee player on a close play defecting the pass.

"That was big. We were telling her not to worry about the fouls," Jackson said of Stokes. "We knew that if she didn't play scared eventually things would go in our favor."

Smith led the Lady Eagles in scoring with 16 points with Jazzmine Smith scoring 12.

"I'm proud of each and every one of them because they hung in there," Jackson said. "They kept fighting, didn't get down, and they're learning how to play ugly."