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King leading Lady Eagles rebuild

Last season Eastside girls’ basketball finished with a 10-15 record overall including a 9-7 record in Region 4-AAAA, but the Lady Eagles missed out on the playoffs. This year the Lady Eagles have a new coach in Gladys King, who comes over after coaching at Rockdale and Salem high schools.

The team is adjusting to its new coach, and King says the transition has gone smoothly.

“I think some of them are adjusting very well. Some of them, they’re not used to a lot of the conditioning that we’re having to do this year and we have to because we’re short in numbers,” King said. “I gotta make sure the ones that I do have out there on the court don’t get ran off the court so they have to be in good shape to compete. They are adjusting very well.”

Other than a lack of depth, King says she’s enjoyed her early months on the job at Eastside. She adds that the school, students, attitudes, competitiveness and the coachable kids have made it a great start.

As of now, the Lady Eagles only have 10 players, four seniors — Tierra Brown, Destine Smith, Ally Chandler and Sydney Mask — who are all expected to start and six sophomores. Last year’s leading scorer and point guard, Janelle Cook, is now at Newton High School.

King still has one of the team’s leading guards from last year, Tierra Brown, who has an all-around game and a nice floater when she gets into the lane. The offense will start with Brown as the lead guard, but King plans to move the ball a lot in her motion offense and hopefully get the opposing defense tired.

With their lack of size and depth, it’s possible you could see the Lady Eagles running with a five-guard lineup against the right team. King says she can sometimes go three out and two or four out and one in, it just depends on who they’re playing. She does want to push the ball at all times and run against scrambling defenses.

Eastside’s calling card last year was defense. The Lady Eagles played well and forced turnovers to get easy layups, although sometimes they couldn’t convert those easy baskets. They’ve been running repetition layup drills in practice to make the easy baskets guaranteed.

“I’ve talked to them about finishing. We make a good play to the basket and then sometimes we don’t finish those type of things,” King said.

Kings says she’s staying on her team about being consistent with their passes and knowing their personnel. It’s been a heavy focus at practice.

“The more they hear it, the more they’ll learn and they’ll stop doing it because they don’t like being called out on it,” King said. “That’s one of the ways I’m trying to get them out of those bad habits and being a little bit more consistent with their layups.”

On defense, Kings says she’ll switch up her calls a lot from man-to-man, zone and press defenses.

“I like to do that because that sometimes it gets people out of there game and out of there comfort zone. You have to because if you don’t then sometimes you just sit back and you find yourself in a hole,” King said.

With the youth and lack of depth, King says she won’t measure the team's success in wins and losses this year, but in effort.

“My expectation is for the girls to compete. Always compete. Never give up on the ball, never give up on the game, never give up on each other and play team ball and make sure that we’re doing some of the things that we need to be doing to be winners and be competitors in the game,” King said strongly. “I’m very excited about this year. I have a bunch of girls that are very coachable, willing to learn and their students of the game – and that’s good. You always gotta have a student of the game because when you have too many experts things don’t go very well.”

Eastside opens its season with a game against Newton on Tuesday at 7 p.m.