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Eastside stays atop region
The Eastside boys varsity basketball team captured a region victory over Johnson Friday night to hold on to its top position in Region 8-AAAA. - photo by Anthony Banks

The Eastside Eagles boys basketball team kept its regular season region championship hopes alive Friday night, defeating visiting Johnson 62-57.

The Knights (15-5, 3-1) were previously unbeaten in region play, and the win keeps the Eagles' (16-2, 5-0) 11-game win streak alive with just four regular season games left on the schedule.

Despite the victory, Eastside coach Gregory Freeman said the Eagles could have played better,

“We didn’t follow instruction, and by not following instructions we allowed them to get back into the game," Freeman said.

The Eagles began the first quarter on a 12-2 run, but the Knights responded with a quick 4-0 spurt with free throws by senior forward James Hodges and a layup by junior guard Ty Cockfield.

Eastside closed out the quarter on a 4-0 run with layups by guards Treyvon Francis and Marquise Sims, ending the period with an 18-10 lead.

The second quarter began with the Eagles increasing their lead back to double digits on a 3-pointer by Sims. The Knights cut the lead back down to nine on a layup by senior guard Drew Dunham, but Francis scored the Eagles' next five points, increasing their lead to 27-12.

However, the Knights kept fighting and went on an 11-0 run to close out the quarter, trimming the Eagles' advantage to 30-26 at the half.

The third quarter began with both teams trading buckets. Francis scored the first points of the quarter to increase the Eagles' lead to six, but the Knights responded with a 3-pointer from junior guard Roderick English.

The Knights cut the lead down to two points at 35-33, but senior guard Anthony Henderson responded with back-to-back 3-pointers, pushing Eastside's lead to eight.

Both teams started to trade 3-pointers as the third quarter came to a close, but a layup by Sims sent the Eagles to the fourth quarter with a 47-40 lead.

Francis scored a layup to begin the fourth quarter, but the Knights went on a quick 4-0 run with back-to-back layups coming from Hodges.

Both teams traded baskets after the Knights' run, but Francis knocked down a pair of free throws to extend Eastside's lead to 61-54.

The Knights responded with a 3-pointer from senior Carter Cagle and cut the lead back to four, but J.J. Saxton converted a free throw to seal the win for the Eagles, 62-57.

“All we do in practice is defense and efficiency and that was our goal second half," Francis said. "We were ready to go and we had the most energy and we kept pushing."

Despite foul trouble, Francis led the Eagles in scoring with 24 points. The Knights were led in scoring by Hodges, who had 23 points.