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Spartans speed past Raiders in district opener

By KEVIN MAYS, Sports Writer/[email protected] • Jan 3, 2018 at 1:20 AM

COEBURN — The Eastside boys basketball team opened Cumberland District play Tuesday with a message: Be ready to run.

The Spartans’ quick-paced offensive attack allowed them to jump ahead early and never look back on the way to a 73-44 win over visiting J.I. Burton.

“I thought our bench was a big factor in the game. I think it wore them down,” Eastside coach Patrick Damron said. “Their five or six are really good players. But when we start throwing as many guys as we have on the bench out there and keeping fresh guys on the floor, I thought that was sort of the difference in the game. Just making the game in our favor as far as the pace and making them play a little faster than they’re used to. That’s how we’re going to play. That’s our DNA, getting the ball out quick.”

Even 6-foot-7 post player Luke Lawson gets into the running game for the Spartans (7-3, 1-0).

“We like to get the ball out quick and get out as quick as we can and try to beat the defense down the court and try to get open shots, and we did that pretty well tonight,” Lawson said.

The senior, coming off a win in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Dunk Contest at the Arby’s Classic, knows his team is the favorite to take the Cumberland championship. But he said he and his teammates have to stay on point.

“You can’t just go into a game thinking this is going to be easy because anybody is capable of beating anybody,” said Lawson, who finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds. “So it’s important to stay focused going into every game and stay focused on winning the next game.”

Burton (9-4, 0-1) got 14 points from Caleb Williams and 11 from Houston Thacker.

Burton coach Aaron Williams said the pace of the game was not good for the Raiders.

“We played their tempo and we’ve got to play ours,” Williams said. “They’ve got a lot of good pieces and they’re well coached. They’re a well-rounded team and you’ve got to give them credit.”

In Tuesday’s girls game, Eastside (9-2, 1-0) rode its balance to a 68-31 win over Burton (6-5, 0-1).

Hannah Wyrick led the Lady Spartans offensively with 25 points and Anna Whited scored 17. Eastside got 13 rebounds from Kaylee Yates, 11 from Emily Moore and 10 from Carrie Boyd. Tori Stevens tallied seven assists and four steals.

Tia Bates and Sarah Mullins had eight points each to lead the Lady Raiders.

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