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Lady Hawks win Battle of the Birds
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After beginning the season with a quick 3-0 start, the Lady Eagles varsity basketball team took a step back Tuesday night in its home opener, falling to Henry County 61-50 in non-region action.

Eastside carried a seven-point lead into halftime, but the Lady Hawks outscored the Lady Eagles 16-6 in the fourth quarter to outlast Eastside in the “Battle of the Birds.”

Jazzmine Cook led the Lady Eagles with 20 points, while forward Zaria Barton added 12, but Henry County’s Taylor Cistrunk scored 15 points in the third quarter on her way to a game-high 27 points.

With the game tied a 46-46 in the fourth, Henry County ended the Lady Eagles’ comeback bid with a 12-0 run in the middle of the quarter, clinching the 11-point victory.

“Our lack of defense and hustle really hurt us in the fourth quarter tonight,” Eastside coach Matthew Foster said. “We went back and forth, but in the fourth we couldn’t make shots, and when you combine that with a lack of defensive intensity, our final score is what you get.

“We missed some key layups and shots down the stretch,” he said. “When you’re not scoring, and you can’t keep the other team from scoring, it’s a bad combo.”

Eastside fell behind 7-2 early in the first quarter, but battled back to close the period on an 8-4 run. Five different Lady Eagles scored in the period, including Adrianna Spears, Ray Clay and Cook during the quarter-ending run.

Cook hit a layup off the glass as time expired in the period, cutting the Lady Hawks’ lead to 13-12 heading into the second quarter.

Eastside took its first lead on its first shot in the second quarter, taking a 14-13 advantage on a Jasmine Greene layup. Jazmyn Jackson extended the Lady Eagles’ lead to 17-15 with 6:55 to go in the period on a 3-pointer from the left corner, part of an 11-0 run by Eastside.

The Lady Eagles held Henry County scoreless for almost four minutes during the period, building their lead with buckets from Deshantra Kelly and Barton. The run gave Eastside a 25-15 advantage, as the Lady Eagles turned Henry County over five times in the period.

“We had a lot of energy and we played better defense in the quarter,” Foster said. “We were really playing with a purpose.”

Eastside closed the first half with a Cook steal and layup, going up 32-25 at the break on a Kelly free throw.

The second half was a different tale for the Lady Eagles, however, as Henry County outscored Eastside 36-18 over the final two periods.

The Lady Hawks outscored Eastside 14-3 to open the third period, taking the lead on a Cistrunk 3-pointer from the top of the key with 5:23 left in the quarter. Cook put the Lady Eagles ahead 44-42 with just under two minutes to go in the period, but Cistrunk nailed another 3-pointer, giving Henry County a 45-44 edge going into the final eight minutes of play. Cistrunk finished with 15 points in the period, including three buckets from behind the arc.

Eastside’s offensive woes continued in the fourth period, as the Lady Eagles hit just one shot from the floor in the final period.

Henry County outscored the Lady Eagles 16-6 in the quarter, going on a 12-0 run after Eastside tied the game at 46-46 with a Barton free throw.

“We got frustrated and we let it affect us,” Foster said. “We have to play for four quarters and not let our mistakes bother us. Basketball is a game of runs, so you always have a chance to respond. We’ll take this game and learn from it.”

Ray finished with a team-high seven rebounds, while Barton grabbed six boards in the loss.

The Lady Eagles return to action Friday on the road at Greene County at 7 p.m.