Eastside’s Anthony Henderson shoots the ball as Madison County’s Ladarius McGuire tries in vain to stop him during Tuesday’s game. (Staff photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith)
COVINGTON — An 18-0 run in the second quarter helped the Eagles solidify their dominance in Region 8-AAAA with a 76-30 win over Madison County on Tuesday.
“When I first got here, what I preached to them was that basketball is a game of runs. That says a lot about where the guys are headed and where the focus is. They’re policing themselves so I really don’t have to get into it. It says a whole lot about their maturity level,” Eastside head coach Gregory Freeman said.
Madison County (8-16, 4-3) thought they were going to come back from their 11-point, first quarter deficit scoring the first basket to make it 19-10. But the Eastside (19-2, 6-0) defense showed why they are the MaxPreps Freeman Class AAAA No. 8 ranked team. The Eagles defense stole the ball at every turn while blocking several shots keeping the Red Raiders off balance and off the board. While the defense stopped Madison County from scoring, the offense transitioned well passing the ball on fast breaks allowing them to score with many shots going unchallenged as they led 37-13 at halftime.
“It’s come full circle since I got here,” Freeman said. “It was like they could only pass the ball to certain players. That is not the way we’re going to play. We’re that old Boston Celtics, L.A. Lakers team that looks out for one another, especially in transition. It makes it fun for everybody.”
After a close third quarter where they outscored Madison County by one point, the Eagles defense again made a stand while the offense scored with ease as they went on a 21-2 run putting the game out of reach.
“We’re a great defensive team. We held them to 30 points in 32 minutes. I look at the defensive side before anything because my understanding is that the best defensive teams in the state were in the final four last year. That’s what I look at,” Freeman said. “We get points in transition, Anthony (Henderson) and Treyvon (Francis) shoot it with the best of them and we defend like heck.”
Leading the Eagles in scoring were Francis with 25 points, Henderson with 10 and Daniel Oduah, who has been playing basketball for two years, with 17. Six of those points came off dunks which electrified the student section.
Even though Jamal Hardge and J.J. Saxton did not contribute in double-digits offensively, Freeman knows that Eastside would not be in the position they are with them and the rest of the bench players.
“Jamal Hardge is not a scorer but he’s an intangible guy that really makes it easier for the other guys on the team. When you’re trying to win championship, those are the guys that extend possessions and get you extra possessions and make it easier for guys like Treyvon and Anthony to focus on other things,” he said.
“I thought Jamal Hardge and J.J. Saxton came off the bench in the first quarter and gave us a little bit of stability. The depth is evident, you can see it. We go to the bench and get what we want.”
The Eagles finish regular-season play on the road at Monroe Area on Friday before starting the region tournament at Lanier on Tuesday.