After Powers and his Eastside teammates suffered a Cumberland District boys basketball setback Tuesday at home against Twin Springs, the senior was determined that Friday’s key league game would result in a W.
Such determination was crucial as the Spartans (9-8, 6-1) held off J.I. Burton 52-48 to regain sole possession of first place in the district standings.
See Roddy Addington’s 📸📸from Friday
“We were hungry,” said Powers, a key player in the Spartans’ back-to-back VHSL Class 2 runner-up finishes the past two seasons. “We usually don’t lose many games at home and after losing that type of game where they played better than us at our own gym, we just came out hungry.”
Burton (14-5, 5-2) seemed hungrier than Eastside early on Friday.
The Raiders scored the game’s first five points and, after Eastside cut the lead to 5-4, Burton used an 11-0 run to take a 16-4 lead with 2:53 to play in the opening frame.
Eastside responded by scoring the next nine and cutting the Burton advantage to three, 16-13, heading to the second quarter.
“It was identical to the game (at Norton),” said Eastside coach Patrick Damron. “We let them kind of punch us in the mouth and then we settled in and started to play and we got a lead.”
Freshman Eli McCoy gave the Spartans their first lead by scoring six straight points to put his team up 19-17. After Burton forged a 19-19 tie on a bucket from Trevor Culbertson, Eastside closed out the opening half with a 10-2 run.
Despite enjoying a 29-21 lead halftime lead, Damron was not comfortable.
“I told the kids at halftime that Norton is a good team and they’re going to make a run and we have to do our best to absorb it, and I thought we did,” he noted.
Eastside stayed out front in the third quarter and withstood Burton’s solid shooting in the fourth with help from back-to-back 3-point shots by Will Stansberry.
“Will was a key for us tonight,” Damron said.
Powers sealed the win by hitting 3 of 4 free throws in the final 21 seconds. He finished as the game’s leading scorer with 19 points.
Stansberry knocked down eight of his 10 points in the third quarter.
Burton got 18 points from Mikey Culbertson and 14 from Trevor Culbertson.
“I think the fans got their money’s worth tonight,” said Burton first-year coach Caleb Church. “I can’t be mad at my guys. It went back and forth and I’m glad of the way we fought.
“We’ll see each other again. We’ll just have to get ready for next time and win it when it counts.”
LADY SPARTANS ROLL
In the girls’ game, Eastside (15-3, 7-0) made the most off 22 Burton turnovers for several transition points to take a 68-33 win.
Anna Whited finished with 22 points for the Lady Spartans. Chloe Powers added 19 and Kaylee Yates had 11.
Burton (6-12, 3-5) got 21 points from K.J. Jenkins.
Burton and Eastside are both back in action Tuesday when Burton hosts Twin Springs and Eastside goes to Castlewood.