Twice as exciting
Eastside girls pull out double OT thriller, win first at Newton
Eastside's girls basketball team has had a year to remember so far. It can now cross off a win at Newton after Saturday's 58-55 double overtime victory.
Qaiserah Sharif's bucket with 29 seconds to go tied the game at 44-44 in regulation and Raven Williams' layup in overtime set the stage for the second overtime.
Jasmine Laguins hit a 3-pointer on Newton's first possession of the second overtime to put the Lady Rams up 53-50 before Deshantra Kelly answered with a three of her own for Eastside. After a Sharif bucket put the Lady Rams up two, Eastside closed out the game with five unanswered points.
"We knew coming in, since we beat them pretty handedly the first time, they were going to be very hard to beat," Eastside coach Mathew Jackson said. "The tough part was convincing them to play with intensity and never give up."
Several critical mistakes down the stretch in the fourth quarter and each overtime period hurt Newton. Head coach Tiffani Johnson called timeout with her team on a fast break with six seconds to go and the game tied at the end of regulation, thwarting a possible fastbreak opportunity. Then, the Lady Rams shot the ball with a 2-point lead and 16 seconds remaining in the first overtime that led to Williams' layup. Finally, Mikola Burks drove down the lane at the end of the second overtime with her team down two and in need of a 3-pointer to tie it.
Eastside was the benefactor each time. Newton was unable to get off a potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation and Williams grabbed the long rebound and went coastto-coast for the layup at the end of the first overtime.
"I was proud — when (she shot that), some of our heads went down," Jackson said. "I told them the game wasn't over and to keep fighting to the end and they responded pretty well."
Sharif almost willed her team to a second straight come-from-behind win in as many games with anoth-
er stirring second half performance. She scored all of her 21 points in the second half and overtime periods and led Newton back from an early 10-point deficit.
"We just went cold and they went on a little run," Jackson said. "We did a terrible job of playing defense. We started to be lazy and we stopped moving our feat. A lot of it had to do with us being tired."
Eastside's tandem of Alexia Somerset and Keresa Howard had other ideas. Somerset paced the Lady Eagles with 21 points while Howard dropped 16 before fouling out.
"They really had no answer for her (Somerset)," Jackson said. "She did a great job of staying out of foul trouble. That's been her Achilles' heel. We knew if we could get the ball to her, they would either have to double or triple team her and we could kick it out and get a nice outside shot out of it."
Eastside led throughout the game but Newton kept fighting in the second half and tied the game at 42 on Burks 3-point play with 2:28 left in regulation. After Eastside went up by two, Sharif scored to knot the game at 44 and set up the first overtime.
Neither team could do much to start the first overtime period until Burks broke the deadlock with a bucket. Burks finished with 12.
Eastside center Paige Alexander was held in check for most of the game but picked the right time to contribute when she knocked down a bucket with 53 seconds left in the second overtime to put Eastside up one. Somerset knocked down a pair of free throws and Newton was unable to tie the game at the end.
"I was very proud," Jackson said. "This is very gratifying. It's the first time in our history we've beaten them at home."
Crunch time: Eastside's Paige Alexander (45) goes for the block against Qaiserah Sharif during the Lady Eagles' 58-55 win in double overtime Saturday. It's Eastside's first season sweep over Newton.