By Nick Crompton
SPALDING, Ga. — The Eastside varsity boys basketball team split its two games in the Jag Challenge Tournament this week in Spalding, scoring a convincing 83-73 victory in day one of the Jag Challenge Tournament against Spalding High School and then falling 63-54 to Raban Gap which plays in a North Carolina league (5-1) Saturday morning.
In Saturday’s loss it was Caleb Woods and Kenny Garrick pacing the Eagles with 14 and 12 points apiece, but on Friday, It was sophomore Myles Rice who really shined in, scoring a team-high 22 points for his team. He completely dominated, notching 12 of those points in the second quarter alone.
With the impressive outing in the win and solid showing in the loss, Eastside moved to 2-1 in the young season. And although it’s still early in the season Eagles assistant coach Mike Gerald feels like he’s has already found some leaders in their team.
“Consistently in terms of offense, I think Caleb Woods has really stepped up,” Gerald said. “Myles Rice and Killian Glover, but we have quite a few guys who haven’t hit their stride yet but are more than capable.”
Coming off a come-from-behind two-point victory against Rockdale County in last Saturday’s NewRock Showcase, Eastside came ready for Spalding. It began as a see-saw battle with both teams aggressively fighting for each possession, with Spalding taking a 24-21 lead into the beginning of the second quarter, thanks to a the first quarter a beautiful last-second three-pointer from freshman Kaleb Banks.
This didn’t deter Eastside, however, as it responded with an 8-2 run to start the second quarter and didn’t look back. From a barrage of scoring fromRice and senior Clayton “Drew” Perry, Eastside took a 41-35 halftime lead.
Spalding was pesky, and never allowed the Eagles to completely break the game open in the second half of the game, Eastside maintained its double-digit lead throughout, on its way to the 10-point win.
The Eagles are trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2017-18 campaign that ended with a 5-18 record and the team on the outside looking in at the state tournament.
But through three games, and an impressive scrimmage outing at Monticello two weeks ago, Eastside has shown an edge and aggressiveness about itself that makes Eastside’s coaching staff feel positive about the initial progress.
“I think they tried to do what we asked them,” Gerald said. “They need to improve defensively, but for the most part, the energy is there, but there is always room for improvement.”
Eastside will get its next shot at progress this coming week as Region 4-AAAA play begins a Tuesday trip to Hampton (0-4) and a Friday journey to North Clayton (0-1). Eastside’s home opener will happen December 7 against Woodward Academy.