COVINGTON — It was a special day for the Eastside Eagles boys basketball team, which scored a victory against the visiting Alcovy Tigers with a final score of 72-66 Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles picked up their eighth win of the season, while head coach Michael Gerald captured the 100th victory of his career as the Eagles head coach. With their only loss coming to No. 1 ranked Woodward Academy in early November, the Eagles have reeled off six straight and are sitting pretty at 8-1.
Playing in the second of back-to-back games after defeating North Clayton 80-71 on the previous night, the Eagles showed no signs of sluggishness, jumping out to a 13-8 first-quarter lead on the Tigers and stretching it to 36-19 by halftime.
Eastside junior point guard Myles Rice was special, showing the ability to handle the full-court press from Alcovy’s swarming defense throughout the game, while dishing out dimes and scoring buckets in the process.
Rice finished with a team-high 18 points. Going 8 of 10 from the line in the fourth quarter showed he had ice water running through his veins.
“I believe I can score from all three levels and also get my teammates involved,” said Rice, who showed poise and leadership from the opening tip. “Getting in the gym every day, two or more hours, working on everything and tightening my ball-handling, working when I’m fatigued and tired, you gotta be able to work through all types of situations.”
High-flying Alcovy senior Oliver Gerard, who’s been spotted on social media lately posterizing players with his, ‘air up there’ jumping ability, was held scoreless in the first half due to picking up his third foul during first-quarter play.
He would have to sit for the entire second 8-minute period.
Gerard talked about some of the pitfalls that led to the loss.
“Unforced turnovers and missing assignments on defense, just letting them get open lays and putting our heads down and not getting back on defense,” Gerard said. “Just the simple stuff”.
The second half was a different story for the high-flying senior, who scored a team-high 15 points in the second half including a mouth watering dunk to get the Alcovy fans out of their seats.
“I picked up three fouls in the first quarter so he (coach Mack Hardwick) needed me in the fourth so he just sat me the second quarter,” Gerard said.
Alcovy was able to close within two points at 60-58 on a steal by Gerard who dropped a dime to Trevon Howze for a transition layup with three minutes left in the game. Alcovy would come no closer, however, as Eastside closed the game on a 12-8 run.
“I knew that Alcovy with the type of players they have, they have a really good coach that they were going to make a run,” Gerald said. “We just had to see if we could endure at the end. We played last night and they didn’t and we knew that it was going to become a game of attrition for us so I was really pleased that we were able to step up and make plays when we needed to.”
Eastside forward Chauncey Wiggins, who’s been making a living draining three-pointers this season, showed some much-needed inside presence for the Eagles, scoring two buckets inside the paint to stave off Alcovy’s comeback. Tying Rice for a team-high 18 points was Eastside sharpshooter Jaylen Woods, who pulled the bow and arrow, converting on four three-point bombs.
At one point during the fourth quarter, knocking down back-to-back three’s to keep the momentum in favor of the Eagles.
“We knew they were gonna make a run eventually throughout the game because we came out kind of early and put the pressure on them but we just had to withstand the run, play our game and keep it simple and we’d pull out the win,” Rice said.
It was the 100th win for Gerald who talked about continuing to build momentum — on and off the court, from their early-season success.
“We always try to imply and get these guys to understand the importance of education and we’re always stressing that No. 1 but secondly as far as basketball is concerned, for us it’s about coming in and taking it one game at a time,” Gerald said. “The little things matter to us more than the bigger things, the obvious stuff so we try to make sure that we try to get better with the little things... if we try to just take one game at a time, we have three games in a week, we concentrate on that one game and we say the only game that matters is the one that we’re gonna play that evening. We take that approach and just try to be better the next game out when we play”.
In addition to Rice and Woods scoring 18 for the Eagles, Wiggins chipped in 13. Avion Young and Dylan Driver each scored 17 points for Alcovy.