COVINGTON, Ga. — The Eastside Eagles defeated the Heritage Patriots 73-59 in a commanding performance that saw them lead from start to finish in the NewRock Showcase.
The Eagles seemed to be in complete control throughout the contest and did an excellent job of setting the tempo. They could comfortably play their level of basketball and took down the Patriots with ease.
The Eagles' outstanding guard pairing of Jaylen Lelie-Johnson and Myles Rice led to a long night for the Patriots defense as they scored from all over the floor. Rice led the way for the Eagles with 18 points, but Lelie-Johnson's 15-point break out performance felt like something head coach Michael Gerald expected and has been waiting to see.
"Jaylen has the ability to be as good as anybody we're going to play," Gerald said. "If we can get him to commit to practicing the way that he plays. He's just a gamer, but we got to get him more committed in practice in doing things at that speed that we need him to do them. He's not doing anything that I didn't expect him to be able to do this season. We need to keep him going and trending in that direction."
Rice's game extends far beyond his ability to score as he also does an excellent job of grabbing rebounds and moving the basketball to the open man. Gerald was pleased with Rice's ability to facilitate within the offense and find open shots.
Despite the dominant showing, Gerald knows his team needs to play four complete quarters, and they still have plenty of areas that they can improve, especially without the ball in their hands.
"I think we had one really good quarter, that third quarter was great," Gerald said. "We got to be more consistent on defense. Offensively, yeah, you can score, but we pride ourselves on not allowing the ball to get in the paint, and we allowed that."
The Eagles will look to execute on defense in their next game on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at Woodward Academy. This game could show how much of a contender they will be in the state playoff race as many pundits believe Woodward Academy is the top team in Class AAAA.