COVINGTON, Ga. — The Eastside boys' basketball season ended Wednesday night with a crushing, 55-48 loss to the Decatur Bulldogs in the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
After clinching a postseason spot for the first time since 2017, Eastside (13-10, 9-5) went into the state playoffs with momentum against an up-and-down Decatur (7-7, 7-7) team.
After scoring three points to open up the game, the Eagles offense would hit a wall as the Bulldogs would begin to take the edge early on.
Eastside came up short in the paint on multiple drives but a last second 3-pointer from senior Jayce Douglas put the Eagles down by 10-8. The second quarter started better for the Eagles before the Bulldogs’ shooters began connecting from the perimeter to go up 19-10 on Eastside.
Despite going on a good run to finish the quarter, the Eagles found themselves down 21-16 going into the break, as Decatur was continuing to find answers to halt the Eastside offense.
Despite being an outstanding shooting team, the Eagles were not finding ways to connect for the 3-pointer, while the Bulldogs connected on multiple to start the third quarter. The Eagles deficit grew as the Bulldogs shot their way to a 36-26 lead going into the final quarter.
With 3:40 left in the game, the Bulldogs were boasting a 47-33 lead, but the Eagles would not go away easy as the Eastside offense started to go on a run.
Big 3-pointers from Douglas and senior Jaylen Woods pulled Eastside closer, but the Bulldogs continueD to find answers and eventually win the first-round matchup by seven points.
Senior Jalen Johnson led the scoring for the Eagles with 19 points, while Douglas came behind with 16 points. Both seniors left it all out on the court in what was their last game wearing he green and white for the Eagles.
Despite the heartbreaking loss at home in the playoffs, head coach Dorrian Randolph is still happy with the overall results in his first season coaching the team. He was able to give the senior players their first chance of playing in the state playoffs.
“It was important [to get these seniors to state.] We set this goal back in July when I first got the job,” Randolph said. “I hate that it ended the way It did, but we did what we said we were going to do [and got these seniors to state for the first time].”
This was the Eagles' first time back in the state playoffs since 2017. With Johnson, Douglas and Woods departing after this year, it will be another tough task building the team back up to make another run next season.
“It just was not our year, we will get back into it after the state playoffs are over so we can start conditioning and building strength,” Randolph said. “I plan on building a state contender every year, and that starts as soon as [the state playoffs] are over.”
Even though the season did not end the way the coaches and players wanted, there is still a lot to look forward to as Randolph plans to continue turning Eastside basketball into a successful program for years to come.