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Eastside girls basketball soars to new heights with Region 8-AAAAA semifinal victory
EHS to Region
The Eastside girls basketball squad celebrates their 52-47 victory over Loganville inside The Arena at Jefferson High School. Next up, the Lady Eagles will play for the Region 8-AAAAA championship Friday in the same location. - photo by Phillip B. Hubbard

JEFFERSON, Ga. — The Arena at Jefferson High School was filled with Eastside Lady Eagles’ celebration following a 52-47 victory over Loganville. The win means that the Lady Eagles will play for the Region 8-AAAAA title Friday at the same location. 

Head coach Gladys King was overcome with emotion following the final buzzer. 

EHS Celebrates
- photo by Phillip B. Hubbard

“It’s been a long road,” King said. “But I’m proud of them.” 

King elaborated how special Wednesday’s outcome was to the overall program. 

“We’ve been close, but we have not made it this far. This is the first year,” King said. “It’s been the first for a while from what I understand. I’m not sure how far it goes back. It’s been a minute.” 

Wednesday’s contest had a plethora of scoring runs by each squad. Down the stretch, however, it was the Lady Eagles who pulled away with a 9-1 run. 

At the 3:54 mark of the final frame, the score stood 43-all following a back-and-forth portion. Then, the Lady Eagles caught momentum and pulled away 51-44 just 1:34 later. 

From there, it seemed Eastside played the possession game. A Morgan Sandema free throw with 10.8 seconds left in the game sealed the deal and the Lady Eagles are Region 8-AAAAA title bound. 

King described what the moment meant to her and her team. 

“I’m just so proud of the girls right now. I’m excited. I told them I knew they could get here,” King said. “I felt good about it all week. We had good practices all week. We’ve been relaxed.”

Eastside’s fourth quarter run was not its first of the contest. 

At halftime, the Lady Eagles faced a 28-17 deficit. To that point, the players seemed to struggle against Loganville’s press, resulting in errant passes, turnovers and fast break opportunities for the Lady Red Devils. 

That was until the third quarter arrived. 

Eight minutes later, that 11-point deficit quickly flipped to a three-point advantage. 

Eastside outscored Loganville 24-5. Plus, the Lady Eagles did not surrender a single field goal on defense. All of the Lady Red Devils’ third quarter points came courtesy of the free-throw line. 

Spivey layup
- photo by Phillip B. Hubbard

Aysia Spivey led the quarter’s scoring with nine, third quarter points. In fact, her three-pointer at the 4:50 mark gave Eastside its first lead of the contest, 29-28.

Spivey connected on three additional three pointers to help contribute to her team-high 20 points. 

Jailyn Williams and Jarilix Rivera each netted five points in the third frame along with a layup from Donee Morain. 

Following the game, King shared what she told the players in the locker room at the half. 

“I told them at halftime, ‘Settle down.’ I’m not worried about anything they’re doing. I’m worried about us,” King said. “We’re making the turnovers. We’re the ones stopping ourselves right now. And then they cut down on those turnovers and started realizing what they could do.”

Behind Spivey, Williams had the second-most points with nine followed by Rivera’s eight. Morain scored four points, too. 

Eastside’s season is far from over, though. Next up will be the Region 8-AAAAA championship Friday at 7 p.m. After that, the Class AAAAA playoffs. 

But for now, King and her staff plan to keep it simple as far as preparation goes between Wednesday and Friday. 

“Just getting back in the gym, getting better, working on fundamentals. Continue working on the mental side of things. Pressure,” King said. “And my bench - oh my God - I couldn’t speak enough of my bench. Just keep encouraging them letting them know that we’re all a team. We do this thing together.”