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Eastside girls basketball plans to build off playoff appearance
Eastside Girls Basketball First Round 2024
Eastside junior Megan Sandema with the ball in the Lady Eagles Class AAAAA playoff matchup with Creekside. - photo by Garrett Pitts

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Lady Eagles’ 2023-24 campaign came to an end in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs on Tuesday. Eastside fell to the visiting Creekside Lady Seminoles 52-39.

In the end, Creekside’s offensive output and rebounding proved to be the decider in the contest.

In the opening frame, the Lady Seminoles jumped on Eastside early.

Creekside outscored the Lady Eagles 20-14 in the first quarter, and the three-ball played a big part in it.

Though the Lady Seminoles lost touch of the three-pointer later in the game, their early shots from the perimeter built the foundation for the lead that lasted until the end.

After the game, Lady Eagles head coach Gladys King discussed the areas where she felt her team fell short.

“There were some things we could have done better — free throws for one,” King said. “Just the fundamentals, layups and a little bit more hustle. Opportunities where you can stop a play, you have to hustle to be able to get back and do those things.”

After beginning the game with a 14-point first quarter, Eastside struggled in the remaining frames to recapture the offensive production.

The Lady Eagles attempted to match the success from the perimeter, but could not connect on the shots that would have brought them closer.

In the remaining quarters, the Lady Eagles scored no more than nine points in each frame.

In the final seconds of the first half, the Lady Seminoles grabbed an offensive rebound before putting it back up for the buzzer beater. The last-second basket gave Eastside a 36-22 disadvantage going into the second half.

The lack of consistent scoring — combined with Creekside’s ability to find open shooters, allowed the Lady Seminoles to come away with the victory despite scoring 16 points in the third and fourth quarters combined.

Though they outscored Creekside in the final two frames, the Lady Eagles ultimately fell 52-39.

Junior Jailyn Williams led Eastside with 13 points in the contest, while sophomore Donee Morian followed with seven points.

The loss ends Eastside’s season with a 16-11 record overall. In Region 8-AAAAA play, the Lady Eagles went 8-4 and were region runners up. 

Eastside’s 16 wins is the most the team has had during King’s tenure.

Along with the season’s win total, Tuesday’s game was the first playoff game for King as head coach of the Lady Eagles. 

With eight of the 13 players on the roster still underclassmen, King wants to see that group learn from Tuesday’s game.

“They know what to expect now. I just want them to understand what things will get them there and what things will hold you back from getting there,” King said. “You have to bring it every night, because there are many nights where you can't be the shooter or the scorer — you have to play defense. Those are the key things that I want them to understand.”

With all the youth on the roster, King did not forget to mention her lone senior, Kaliel Kracht.

Kracht’s leadership for the team and presence in the paint is something that King feels the team will miss the most.

“Kaliel has meant a lot [to this program],” King said. “She started in the program the year we had covid, we had to quarantine. We had girls that had never played before that were out there. It wasn't a winning year but she stuck with it. We are going to miss that leadership and her presence coming out there and rebounding for us, making plays and cutting balls off on our press breaks.”

Having a roster with only one senior, King hopes that this year is a building block for more playoff appearances.

“I have been here nine years and we have finally made it through the door of making it to state,” King said. “We are not even big in size. We are young. I have one senior. They have been doing the fundamentals all year, trying to get it done. I hope they come back next year and are ready to go and hopefully we can go a little bit further.”