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Hoops: Salem at Eastside
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COVINGTON - On Tuesday evening, the Eastside varsity basketball games were more than just a pair of contests for some players, particularly the upper classmen.

For the seniors, it would be their last home game played at Eastside High. As the assistant coaches called out their names, the seniors - escorted by their parents - walked across court to meet their respective coach.

Greeted with a rose and a handshake, they looked to leave Eastside with a banG.

However, it wasn't meant to be, as both squads were swept by Salem in region action.

In the boys game, the Eagles (7-12 overall, 2-8 Region 8-AAAA South) could not hold on in overtime, falling 64-60.

Meanwhile, the Lady Seminoles (18-6, 10-3) barreled through Eastside (8-17, 1-10), 72-40.

"We haven't had the greatest season this year, but a definite improvement from last year," said Eastside fan Jason Digby. "It's been a fun year and we have had a great and strong senior class."

Prior to the boys game, Eastside coach Michael Gerald felt confident that his team would prevail.

"We want to get out to a good start defensively and dictate the pace of the game," said Gerald before the game. "I really believe that our defense is what carries our offense."

Sticking to the game plan, the Eagles forced Salem (8-14, 2-8) to turn the ball over five times en route to a quick 13-2 lead. Taking full advantage, Eastside held on to a 13-8 lead through the first eight minutes of play, by continuing to play solid defense.

Artis Clanton paced the Eagles with his game-high 15 points. After putting together another nine-point run, the Eagles jumped to a 21-8 lead before things began to collapse.

By turning the ball over eight times late in the second quarter, it allowed the Seminoles to put together a 20-1 run, taking a 28-22 lead into halftime.

But the Eagles came out in the second half scoring eight of the first 10 points, tying the game at 30.

The teams went blow for blow with each other, ending the third quarter with the Eagles trailing, 39-37.

With 17 seconds left in the fourth frame, the Seminoles had possession and a six-point lead. But after a quick turnover and foul, Quay Maddox put two free throws in to cut the lead to four. Eager to pull out a victory, the Eagles forced yet another turnover on the inbounds pass and got an easy layup with 10 seconds remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Eastside committed a quick foul, sending Julius Giles to the line in hopes of making at least one of two. However, Giles missed both free throws, allowing Dominique Hubert to push it the length of the court and then find Neal Latimore for the game-tying layup, sending the game into overtime, 52-52.

But after fighting so hard to comeback, the Eagles came up empty in overtime.

"I am extremely proud of my guys and my seniors for the way they played, especially down the stretch to tie the game," said Gerald. "Both teams played really tough. Unfortunately, we came up a little short."

Salem's Zach Roddenberry led all scorers with 29 points. Tyone Elliot added nine points.

Gabe Mathis had 13 points for the Eagles.

Earlier Tuesday, the Lady Eagles would eventually lose based on their inability to maintain control of the ball.

After fighting back from a 24-14 deficit in the first half, the Lady Eagles - led by Jade Cook - put together a 10-0 run, tying the game at 24 before halftime.

Unfortunately, in basketball there are four quarters and not two. Had that been the case, the Lady Eagles may have been able to salvage a win. After committing 17 second half turnovers, the Lady Seminoles grabbed a 51-34 third quarter lead and never slowed down.

Courtney Hurt led Salem with 35 points and 17 rebounds. Rebecca Mitchell added 14, while Ariel Wynter had 13 points.

Cook paced the Lady Eagles with Eastside's Ashley Crew scored eight points. Raven Williams added seven.

Eastside travels to Rockdale County at 7 p.m. tonight.