J.I. Burton and Eastside battled each other intensely from the opening tip to the final whistle Tuesday before Burton came away with an 83-66 Cumberland District boys basketball win.
The victory moved the Raiders (12-4, 5-1) into a first-place tie with the Spartans (15-3, 5-1) in the district standings.
Both teams started strong and kept things close throughout the first three quarters.
Burton led most of the way but could never pull away from Eastside until opening a gap in the fourth quarter thanks to four quick 3-pointers in the first 2:30 of the final period.
Raiders coach Aaron Williams was happy with his team’s intensity in the fourth quarter but said he was pleased with how his team played throughout the game.
“The first quarter was a really good quarter for us,” he noted. “We came out and attacked. And then we just kept attacking the whole time.”
Burton’s ability to attack the basket and keep the quick pace throughout the second half made a big difference.
“In the third quarter they made a punch at us and we answered,” Williams noted. “We just stayed aggressive the whole game and we had several guys step up and make the plays when we needed them.”
DEFENDING THE SPARTANS
Senior Houston Thacker, who beat Eastside for only the second time in his career, led Burton with 23 points and eight rebounds, but he said his team’s defense was key in the win.
“We just came with the right approach. We were all locked in. We believed in what Coach Williams said. We executed what we were supposed to do,” he said. “We just played hard. We pride ourselves on defense and I thought we played well defensively.”
Zac Campbell added 16 points for Burton. Jonah Cochrane had 13, Caleb Williams finished with 12 points and six rebounds and Derek Allen pulled down eight rebounds.
Ethan Powers led Eastside with 26 points and Nick Livingston added 16.
“I felt like we were a little too fired up at the beginning of the game,” said Eastside coach Patrick Damron. “We missed a lot of easy shots that we don’t usually miss. We’ve got some things that need to be fixed. It just puts you in a bind when you’re missing easy shots and they’re making shots. We had to play from behind. I felt like we had to play desperate the entire game and that didn’t work for us tonight.”
GIRLS FIGHT TO THE FINISH
Eastside (12-4, 6-0) kept its lock on first place by holding off Burton 59-55 despite connecting on only 1 of 9 free throw attempts in the game’s final minute.
Anna Whited had 18 points and eight steals, Chloe Powers and Carrie Boyd each scored 11 points and Kaylee Yates finished with 12 rebounds for the Lady Spartans.
Burton (8-9, 1-5) got 14 points and 12 rebounds from Maggie Williams. Kaylee Jenkins, Sarah Mullins and Kaitlyn Lindsey finished with 12 points apiece.