East­side preps for crosstown bat­tle against Rams

Ea­gles look­ing for first win in four years against New­ton

The Covington News - - Sports - By Ja­son Mur­dock

On Satur­day, East­side boys bas­ket­ball head coach Michael Ger­ald will at­tempt to do some­thing he has yet to ac­com­plish against the crosstown ri­val Rams in three years: win.

The Ea­gles (3-0) are 0-6 against New­ton un­der the di­rec­tion of Ger­ald; how­ever, that might very well change within the next 48 hours when they host the Rams (10) this week­end.

“I think it’s good for both teams, but I look at it as we’re just play­ing an­other team,” said Ger­ald re­gard- ing the heated ri­valry. “One thing that we’ve tried to re­ally ex­press this year is that we take ev­ery game one at a time, so whoever we’re fac­ing next that’s the team that we’re fo­cus­ing on.

“We’re not go­ing to look at (this) as it be­ing any more im­por­tant than the next game,” added Ger­ald.

Last year East­side lost to the Rams twice, 62-49 and 70-55. But dur­ing the 2005- 06 cam­paign, the bat­tles were a bit closer, with the Ea­gles fall­ing 43-41 and 54-47. And in 2004-05 they were even closer, as East­side lost 52-45 and 53-52.

Since the crosstown se­ries of­fi­cially be­gan seven years ago, New­ton owns a 12-2 record over East­side.

“Well, the kids know it’s not just an­other game,” re­marked New­ton head coach Rick Ras­mussen. “It’s al­ways fun to play peo­ple you know. I think it’s more fun and ex­cit­ing to a cer­tain ex­tent (for) the kids and the fans; it’s brag­ging rights for the stu­dent body.”

This sea­son the Ea­gles have started off 3-0 thanks to win­ning the Pope Tour­na­ment last week. In fact, last year it took un­til Dec. 15 for them to win their third game.

“Th­ese guys un­der­stand that when they step on the floor they’re ex­pected to do cer­tain things,” said Ger­ald.

“As a re­sult we’ve had some suc­cess, at least (dur­ing) the first week into the sea­son. I think they em­brace it and they know that if they do what they’re be­ing coached to do then the op­por­tu­nity is go­ing to present it­self.”

But Ger­ald isn’t the only one to have taken no­tice of his team’s im­prove­ment on the hard­wood this year, de­spite it only be­ing the sec­ond week of play.

“East­side has done well early,” praised Ras­mussen. “They’ll prob­a­bly be as con­fi­dent as they can pos­si­bly be all year. It’s al­ways good to start with some mo­men­tum, so they’ve done a good job of build­ing that up head­ing into this game.”

Come Satur­day though all records will be tossed out the door.

Both Ger­ald and Ras­mussen each stress the im­por­tance of not adapt­ing on the floor to suit the other team’s needs, mean­ing each wants to play their own game. For that rea­son alone it should be quite an in­ter­est­ing and ex­cit­ing matchup.

“The big­gest thing we want to do is be who we are,” said Ras­mussen. “We’re not try­ing to be them, and we won’t change what we do for them. We want to con­cen­trate on be­ing us. If we do what we’re sup­posed to do (then) we’ll give our­selves a chance.”

“N o mat­ter what the records are, you throw that out when you get to­gether. You can’t take this one lightly, and I know (Ger­ald) will have them ready to play. I don’t have to say much to my kids: It’s one of those games that you make mem­o­ries from and talk about af­ter high school.”

— Rick Ras­mussen Boys bas­ket­ball head coach, New­ton High School

Ger­ald echoes a sim­i­lar phi­los­o­phy head­ing into the mar­quee game at the Nest.

“Our big­gest con­cern about them is play­ing at their speed,” noted Ger­ald of the Rams. “They do what they do well, and if we al­low them to do (that) they have suc­cess. We can’t al­low them to dic­tate how the game is played. The con­cern of mine is that we don’t play that style. We need to stay at our com­fort level.”

And should the Ea­gles fly at the above­men­tioned al­ti­tude then they should come out on top, which of course would be a first for Ger­ald.

“It’ll be a chal­lenge,” noted Ras­mussen. “On the road you find out how tough your kids are. You’ll have ups and downs, but I don’t think ei­ther team will quit be­cause it means too much.”

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