Eastside’s girls struggled in their first two games to open the season. Then they got Alexia Somerset back. Since then, they’re 2-0.
Somerset returned Tuesday to score a career-high 32 points in the Lady Eagles’ win over Henry County. Friday, she dropped a game-high 13 to lead them to a 55-21 rout of Locust Grove.
“She just makes everyone better. That’s what I’ve asked her to do,” Eastside coach Matthew Jackson said. “She goes out there and can play anywhere from the one to the five (positions). Her job is to get out there and let the game come to her and make everyone better by being a facilitator.”
Eastside’s guards also had another solid game. Led by Jazmyn Jackson and Jymara Smith, the Lady Eagles pressured the Lady Wildcats early and often to create turnovers. They turned those steals into points and raced out to a 21-4 lead after one period.
“We have to (use pressure defense) because we’re short,” Matthew Jackson said. “Being short, we have to be very aggressive.”
Somerset did a little bit of everything. She scored in transition and in the half court set. When she wasn’t scoring, she was finding teammates including Jazmyn Jackson who knocked down two threes in the first quarter.
“We are starting to execute better,” Jackson said. “We are starting to mature some. For the most part we have a young team besides Alexia but they are starting to catch up and play with her which is a good thing.”
Locust Grove scored the first four points of the second quarter before the Lady Eagles closed it out with a 10-2 run.
Eastside outscored the Lady Wildcats 13-2 in the third quarter to force a six-minute fourth period. They still managed to score in double figures in the shortened quarter with an 11-9 edge.
The only blemish on an otherwise stellar night was Eastside’s free throw shooting. They missed all five of their attempts from the line in the first half and 10 for the game and continued a trend of shooting poorly from the charity stripe.
“That’s one of our Achilles’ heels,” Jackson said. “It’s something we work on every single day. Only missing 10 is actually a plus because we missed like 20 last game.”
After such a successful season a year ago, there were questions whether Eastside could be as competitive in their region given the loss of so many key players. After two losses to start the year, those questions remained. Now with Somerset back in the lineup and a pair of wins under their belt, the Lady Eagles may be ready to reassume its place among the region’s elite
“I think overall, Alexia brings a lot to the table and just her energy is making the rest of the team more energetic and want to win,” Jackson said. “We’re being competitive and overall within the region, I think we have a really good shot.”