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PREP BASKETBALL: Eastside girls still have a shot at postseason play
The Eastside girls basketball team has bonded and shown tremendous improvement this season. - photo by Tyler Williams

LOCUST GROVE, Ga. — It has been an up and down season for the Eastside basketball Lady Eagles to say the least. 

When you look at the results of all their games this season, you can see exactly why. 

They opened the season with a one-point victory over their country rival Alcovy, and they started the 2017-18 campaign with a 2-1 record. But then they lost six straight by an average margin of 14 points. Part of this losing streak came in a period where they were missing key personnel, according to head coach Gladys King. 

“We lost our starting point guard for several games due to unforeseen circumstances,” King said. “This made senior point guard D’Erica Farley and sophomore guard T’Niah Douglas step up. They both have had to handle the ball more to build their confidence and ball handling skills and decisions on the court. These were much needed performances.”

Eastside junior T’Niah Douglas saw much more time handling the ball for the Lady Eagles this past season. - photo by Tyler Williams

These focused-filled games were what the Lady Eagles needed to get back on track throughout their season. After trading a few wins and losses, the team was in the midst of a hot streak that saw them win four out of their last five games, before dropping their most recent game to the fifth-ranked Luella Lions Friday night, which they previously lost to during their down period. 

However, from that first game early in the season, to the most recent meeting between the two, King has seen tremendous, unparalleled progression. 

“I have seen these ladies grow from day one,” she said. “I have seen growth from fundamental skills to decision making on the court as well as what to do when you don’t have the ball. It’s a different growth from what I have seen in the past. They understand the concept of being counted out, and as I explained to them, win the games you are supposed to win, compete no matter what the score is, and never give up. Keep swinging.”

‘Swinging’ accurately describes what the Lady Eagles have done in the second half of this season, winning four games in a span of five contests by an average margin of 21 points, while only dropping a game to Union Grove in overtime. This change in mindset stemmed from different schemes as well, according to King. 

“We have made a few changes in our defenses,” she said. “Each opponent is different, so each night the game plan changes. One game plan doesn’t work for every team we play.”

Eastside sophomore Alysee Dobbs found herself on the All-TCN first team for the second straight season. - photo by Tyler Williams

And while the team sits at a 7-11 record, it still sits above .500 in Region 4-AAAA with a 5-4 mark, putting the Eagles in prime position to receive a shot at the state tournament. For King, this is an obvious goal that her team is working towards, but she still wants to rightfully take it one game at a time. 

“What team goal isn’t to make it to the state tournament?” she said. “We are always going to take it one game at a time because that is how the games are played.”

Despite losing their most recent game, the confidence is still there and is continuing to build in this young team, but King knows that there is still work to do, whether the year ends in the regular season or continues into the postseason. 

“We can work on getting back in the paint on defense, taking care of the ball better and running the floor better,” she said.” 

The Lady Eagles have two games left in the regular season, one being against No. 2 Henry County — also a Region 4-AAAA, and the other, a rematch with Alcovy. 

As these two tough games approach, King had one word to describe the season’s turnaround as well as their hope to extend the season past two games. 

“Determined,” she said.