COVINGTON, Ga. - Eastside Eagles Head coach Michael Gerald let out a big sigh of relief as the final buzzer rang on Saturday night, and his team walked away with a 62-54 victory over the Druid Hills Red Devils.
It was a back and forth affair from beginning to end, but the Eagles ability to knock down their free throws late was ultimately the difference-maker in the ball game.
The Eagles went 9-of-12 at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and timely steals by Myles Rice and Ladarian Adams, which both turned to points, was ultimately the difference.
Gerald was pleased with the clutch play of Anderson and Rice and knew how valuable they could be in critical moments of games.
“We had to match their intensity and make plays when we had the opportunity to make plays, so down the stretch we've made plays when we needed them offensively or defensively gotten a stop," Gerald said. "Whenever you get a player like him (Myles Rice), you're just blessed. As far as Ladarian (Adams), defensively, he can be really, really good for us, and we're fortunate he got those steals late for us."
In the early course of the game, it was the Eagles big men getting the job done as Miokaye Grant, and Chauncey Wiggins led the way in scoring for the Eagles at halftime. Gerald was very pleased with their play and even more satisfied with Wiggins's recent run of outstanding play defensively and on the boards.
"We want Chauncey to have that fight in him and hone it in a positive way. We hope he'll continue that on the defensive end, and he's had two good nights on the defensive end, and we're glad to see that," Gerald said. "We're happy to see Miokaye Grant trending in the direction we want him to trend in. He's still got some things to work on his offense, but defensively, rebounding the basketball; he's been that guy."
This was a hard-fought game down the stretch for the Eagles that notched them their nine straight victories. While nine straight is nice, Gerald believes the most important game is the next one and wants his guys focused on taking each game one at a time.
The Eagles have a big one coming up next as they will go across town on Saturday, Dec. 21 to take on their county rivals the Newton Rams. The Rams are riding a nice little streak of their own and are fresh off knocking off the No. 1 Grayson Rams and the Rockdale County Bulldogs in the past week.
Gerald knows that outsiders will look at this matchup and build hype around it, but he wants his guys to treat every game with the utmost importance.
"In the past, we always try to treat the Newton game as just another game. Everyone else wants to place extra emphasis on it because they have been so good for so long," Gerald said. "Everybody will be anxious to see if we're as good as our ranking states, but we look at as this is our opponent and these are the guys we need to stop, so we know it'll be high and energetic, but we just want to have the same outcome that we have had the last nine games."