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Posted: December 3, 2013 11:08 p.m.

Eagles’ defense too much for Hawks

Matt Smith/

Anthony Henderson blocks his opponent's shot Tuesday night against Henry County.

The Eastside Eagles boys varsity basketball team picked up its third win of the season Tuesday night, defeating Henry County 68-45 in its home opener.

Marquise Sims led the Eagles with a game-high 16 points, including 14 points in the first half.

Sims drained 12 points from beyond the arc in the first 16 minutes of action, finishing 4-of-6 from behind the arc in the opening half.

Sims’ first-half offensive outburst helped the Eagles to a 38-26 lead, an advantage head coach Gregory Freeman said was needed as the rest of the Eastside team struggled to find its groove offensively.

“Marquise’s early shots were big for us because we came out sluggish,” Freeman said. “We didn’t look prepared to play and we weren’t focused on what we should have been focused on. His play kept us in the game early.”

Eastside took a 4-0 lead out of the gate thanks to baskets from Justin Adams and a pair of free throws from Treyvon Francis, but the Hawks stormed back to take a 7-4 advantage. The Eagles trimmed Henry County’s lead to just a point after the first quarter after back-to-back 3-pointers from Sims, entering the second quarter down 17-16.

Sims nailed his third triple to start the second quarter, giving the Eagles a 20-16 advantage that they never relinquished. Eastside opened the period on a 10-3 run, pushing its lead to nine on an Anthony Henderson layup with 4:17 to go in the first half.

Besides’ Sims’ hot hand, the Eagles did most of their damage at the free-throw line in the first half, outscoring Henry County by seven at the charity stripe over the first two quarters. The Eagles went 5-of-7 from the line in the second quarter, while limiting the Hawks to just two shots at the foul stripe.

The free throw disparity helped Eastside carry a 12-point lead into halftime, pacing the Hawks 38-26 at the break.

In the third quarter, Eastside heightened its defensive intensity, holding Henry County to just nine points in the period. The Eagles started the quarter on a 10-0 run, with Jamal Hardge hitting Eastside’s first two baskets to push its lead to 42-26.

Darryl Dennis hit three consecutive baskets for the Eagles to close the quarter, scoring six points in the period to send Eastside into the final quarter with a 58-35 lead.

Freeman said his team played much more efficiently in the third quarter.

“I asked the guys to come out after halftime and to play the way we practice,” he said. “We get after it every day in practice and we have to continue implementing that on the court.”

The Eagles and the Hawks traded baskets in the final period of play, finishing the quarter scoring 10 points apiece. Francis added five points in the period, nailing a pair of baskets in the quarter. The point guard’s final basket pushed the Eagles ahead 62-35, and Eastside led by as many as 31 in the period.

Henry County scored the final eight points of the contest, but Eastside’s lead was too much to overcome in the 23-point drubbing.

Francis joined Sims in double figures with 14 points, while Henderson added seven points and six rebounds.
Jordan Adams and Damion Rosser finished with nine points apiece for the Hawks.

Eastside will travel to Greene County on Friday for its fifth game of the season.

“It’s always hard to go on the road and win,” Freeman said. “Tonight was an ugly win for us. We could have played better and we need to remember that when we hit the road Friday.”

Game time against the Tigers is set for 8:30 p.m.

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