Lady Eagles' start fast leads to win

COVINGTON -- The Eastside girls did a lot of things right in their 63-20 win over Monroe Area to start Region 8-AAAA play on Tuesday.

"We needed that," Eastside head coach Matthew Jackson said. "I'm really pleased with the way they played defense. That's been our hallmark all year. We went through a slump but I told them to forget about everything that happened in the past and move forward."

The Lady Eagles (7-7. 1-0) were aggressive early in the contest, scoring eight of their first-quarter 17 points off steals. Even though the Lady Purple Hurricanes (3-12, 0-1) were running up and down the court with Eastside girls, it did not reflect in the score as the Lady Eagles steadily increased their lead.

After proving their ability to dominate the paint in the first period, the Lady Eagles showed that they had outside shooting ability in the second with a pair of 3-point shots and eight points from outside the paint.

Eastside extended its lead from 11 points, 17-6, to end the opening frame ahead 26 points, 40-14, to finish the first two quarters of play.

"It's all about preparations for when we go against other teams that can beat our press. We want to be able to play good half-court defense," Jackson said. "Whether that's man or some type of zone. It's about working on different things for the future."

Jazzmen Cook and Journee Stokes scored enough points in the first half alone to give the Lady Eagles the lead with 10 points each.

Eastside had three players in double figures with Cook leading the pack with 15 points followed by DeShantra Kelly, who had to take over at point guard after Ja'la Douglas left to go back to Baldwin County, with 12 and Stokes with 10. Eastside held Monroe Area's top player, Tori Kelly, to seven points.

"Poo (DeShantra Kelly) really stepped up," Jackson said. "Now she has to be the focal point of being a point guard. She doesn't like to play point guard but she handled it (and) I've asked to her to step into that role. She's getting tougher there so she's not as timid about taking the ball to the basket."

The Lady Eagles continued their dominance over Monroe Area in the third quarter, scoring 16 points. They were equally as dominant on defense, holding the Lady Purple Hurricanes to just two points with their only basket coming with 1:07 left in the third.

Even with Eastside's starters sitting on the bench, Monroe Area was unable to cut into the Lady Eagles' lead, scoring only four points in the final quarter.

"That's our M.O.; not being tall or anything, we have to scramble," Jackson said. "We have to hustle to make it as easy to score as possible."