The last time Eastside and Walnut Grove high schools basketball teams met up, the Eagles floundered a 16-point second half lead and lost by four. This time wasn't much different as the Warriors turned the Eagles’ 39-30 lead to dust in a 51-47 Walnut Grove win.
With a win, the Eagles would have advanced to the region championship game, but yet another lead squandered by the Eagles will have them traveling in the first round of the playoffs instead of hosting as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.
It took a while for either team to get in a rhythm; the score was 3-3 with 4:27 left in the first. Eastside missed shots inside the paint with Walnut Grove clogging it up with an airtight defense. While Walnut Grove did get some decent looks, they couldn't connect on open jumpers.
Isaiah Miller scored on a sweet spin move and had the Eagles up 5-3 in a game with little offense, a spin move and score was a welcome addition.
The Warriors eventually tied the game at seven. Miller got out in transition and connected on a contested layup. Keondre Perry blocked a three-point attempt at the buzzer and the Eagles led 9-7 after the first.
TeAndre Bailey extended the Eagles’ lead to 18-13 with a triple after a pass from Perry. Joshua Cammon dropped a trey two plays later and Eastside led 21-13 with 2:01 left in the first half.
Eastside would close the half on an 8-2 run, carrying a 23-15 lead at halftime.
The Eagles traded twos for threes with the Warriors and Walnut Grove pulled to within six. The Eagles man defense stood out, they stuck with ball handlers by switching on screens, and recovered well when they doubled and a man got free.
Raytavious Jackson got into foul trouble, with his fourth foul midway through the third. A 5-0 run by Eastsode that saw Miller slice his way into the paint and switch hands for a layup in traffic that gave the Eagles a 34-23 lead after Perry’s three-pointer.
Eastside’s lead was trimmed to six with some excellent half-court trap defense by the Warriors, but Cammon knocked down a corner three at the buzzer and the Eagles were up 39-30 heading into the final frame.
Walnut Grove’s Faizon Jackson was able to get out in the open court and score two easy basket as the bleeding began. Then another turnover and break resulted in AJ Jones getting fouled and knocking down 1-2 free throws to cut it to four.
Eastside turned it over again and the Warriors scored making it 39-37 before Jones dropped a trey over Miller to give the Warriors a 40-39 lead.
The Eagles were in trouble. Walnut Grove took the lead with a 12-0 run after a free throw from Quentin Frazier. It didn’t help that the Eagles went 1-3 at the line during Walnut Grove’s comeback.
Jackson checked back in with under 2:30 to play and the game tied at 44. Eastside fouled Dashun Smith and Smith drained a pair of free throws with 1:02 remaining, giving the Warriors a 46-44 lead.
Down two with 25.6 seconds left, Jackson fouled out and sent Jatahj Malcolm to the line. Malcolm missed both, but Cammon jumped quickly for the rebound and inadvertently tipped the ball out of bounds. Warriors ball.
Jones knocked down free throws to hold off the Eagles and secure the win.