COVINGTON — The Lady Eagles basketball team are hoping to convert experience into a trip to the state championship game.
“I’m looking for this team to push further in the playoffs. I’m looking to go to the Sweet-16 that’s my goal. But our ultimate goal is to go to the state championship,” Eastside head coach Matthew Jackson said. “It’s been four years since we’ve been to the Sweet-16 so that would be nice to go further than that.”
The Lady Eagles finished third in Region 8-AAAA last season before losing to Fayette County in the opening round of the state playoffs. Even though the Eastside girls do not have a lot of height, they have speed which Jackson hopes will all them to keep teams off balance.
“We went to different camps this summer and we played all different levels,” Jackson said. “We played against girls that are much taller than we are to get over that fear. We can’t use that as an excuse.
“I really think that Madison County, Chestatee and Stephens County are all going to be tough as well. I don’t know what the other teams are going to bring of course, but I’m putting the pressure on our team to come out on top. I know all coaches are doing the same thing, but I feel that if they play the way they can play we can go deep (playoffs) and finish strong in our region.”
Even though the Lady Eagles finished 8-14 last season, six games were decided by 10-points or less. Hurting the Lady Eagles last year were their inability to sink easy layups and free throws. That is one aspect of their game they have been working on intently.
“The games we lost were tight. We know we can get to the basket and we know we can defend. But we want to make it easy on ourselves since last year free throws and layups was our Achilles heal,” Jackson said. “If we can actually do those things in most of the games we lost it could have been a different outcome.”
Coming back last year’s team include Jazzmine Cook, Zaria Barton, Jymara Smith, Jasmine Green, Deshantra Kelly and Rayneisha Clay.
“Out of that group, all of them are seniors except for Rayneisha who’s a junior. The newcomer would be Janelle Cook, that’s Jazzmine Cook’s sister. She’s a freshman so we’re looking for big things from her. She’s pretty good,” Jackson said. “The starters are going to need some help especially in January and February when the legs start getting tired and they start to get worn down.”
With most of the team being experienced seniors, one thing the Lady Eagles are not lacking are leaders. Stepping up in those leadership include Jazzmine Cook and Jymara Smith.
“Jazzmine Cook of course is our leader. She leads by example and she has become more vocal. Jymara Smith is very confident and she’s becoming an upbeat leader that we need. The rest are adding their own two cents and when one is getting down they’ll pull the other one up,” Jackson said. “I’m real proud of each one of the girls and I think we’re going to have a really good year.”