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PREP HOOPS: Eagles drop overtime thriller to Walnut Grove
Eastside opens Region 8-AAAAA play with narrow loss
Eastside Hoops
Eastside senior Jaylen Lelie-Johnson (0) and the Eagles opened Region 8-AAAAA play with an overtime loss to Walnut Grove on Saturday night. - Garrett Pitts | Special to The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Eastside boys' basketball team lost its Region 8-AAAAA opener to Walnut Grove in overtime Saturday night as both defenses put on a show from the opening tipoff to the final buzzer.

The Eagles fell to the Warriors by a score of 62-53, letting the game go as it went into overtime.

Saturday marked the first time Eastside took the court in almost a month due to difficulties with COVID-19 that kept the team from playing.

The first two quarters saw both teams step up on the defensive side of the ball as they were limited to minimal points early on. 

Junior Jacquez Williams led what little offense the Eagles had early on as the guard connected from the perimeter twice in the opening quarter to go with his four points in the second.

Going into the half leading 25-19, head coach Dorrian Randolph knew the Eagles had their work cut out for them.

“We had a defensive plan, and that was to account for [Camren Lee], he is [good] player,” Randolph said.

Throughout the rest of the game, and especially in overtime, Lee would prove to be a thorn in the Eagles' side.

Eastside had a 47-36 lead with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter, but that's when the Warriors began to go on a run. Walnut Grove would tie the game with just more than 10 seconds left in regulation.

“At halftime, we had already missed six layups, four free throws, and you [cannot do that] if you want to be a region championship team like we aspire to be,” Randolph said. “Offensively we definitely go to work on ball movement and be being able to knock down the open shots against any zone.”

With 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Lee drew the shooting foul and gave Walnut Grove the one-point lead. 

Williams took the ball down the court for the Eagles on the next possession and ran through the lane only to get denied at the basket by Shawn Walker II. However, Eastside’s Oliver Dean snagged the rebound and drew a shooting foul on the put-back shot with just three seconds left.

Dean made one of his two layups to tie the game at 50 and force overtime.

The Warriors quickly went up 55-50 in overtime and never let go of the lead as Lee continued to add on the Walnut Grove lead. His efforts helped the Warriors close out the game and secure a nine-point victory.

Williams led the scoring for the Eagles with 13 points, while senior Jaylen Lelie-Johnson followed with 12.

With the tough overtime loss, the Eagles fall to 2-4 on the year. They'll look to get back in the win column when they play host to region foe Johnson on Tuesday, Jan. 5.