COVINGTON — The Eastside girls basketball are not sure if they’re going to be able to reload or rebuild after graduating seven seniors from last year’s team. But one thing they are sure of is that they are going to have to play a different brand of basketball with their new region alignment.
“We went to Morrow High School and played in a weekly tournament up there. The teams that competed are similar to our new region. They had Jonesboro and Henry County,” Eastside girls head basketball coach Matthew Jackson said. “We got a little jump to see their style of play. The new region we’re in is going to be a little more uptempo then the region we left so we had to prepare the girls for that.”
The Lady Eagles played 15 games in total including a trip to Thompson which gave them a chance to compete against East and South Georgia teams.
Jackson had to contend with girls that lacked much varsity experience from last year’s team. Of the four juniors that were on the team last season, Rayneisha Clay is one player that stepped up to fill the void left by the departing seniors.
Clay was a steady player for the Lady Eagles coming off the bench last year. Even though she did not score a lot of points, she made her presence known in her limited play averaging 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. This year Jackson expects a lot from her now that he knows what she’s capable of following the summer workouts.
“This year she’ll be called upon to be one of the team leaders or that floor general that will get everybody together,” Jackson said. “She’ll be my voice on the court.”
Another player that Jackson expects a lot from after a good summer workout is upcoming sophomore Janelle Cook. As the only freshman on the varsity last season, Cook played in 22 of their 26 games scoring 4.4 points per game. As a seasoned played, Cook has the potential to take a more active role including being a starter.
“She’s going to be our point guard and floor leader even though she’s only a sophomore. She’s really stepped up and looked very promising is definitely going play a major role,” Jackson said. “I also have to mention Lucy Smith, she played good as well.
“We have a lot of young girls, a lot of girls where this will be their first time having extended minutes playing on varsity. Most of those girls will be called upon to step up in their first year of being starters and falling into that role. They’ve responded pretty well. I was pleased with their attitude and their work ethic. But they’re still young and a lot of them still have to understand the necessity to work hard all the time. For the most part I’m pleased with all of them.”
Even though the team are no longer having their summer workouts, Jackson hopes that they girls will continue to practice and try to get better on their own.
“I have two girls that will play AAU and some of them are softball girls. A few are working and getting experience helping their parents,” Jackson said. “I also have a few volleyball players. Being in two sports is good because it keeps them busy and it keeps them motivated.”