The Trojans snapped the four year drought Friday night when they defeated Aberdeen 65-64 in the semifinals of the 3A North Half Boys Basketball Playoffs.
East Side (26-5) improved on its season’s accomplishments Saturday night by defeating Kemper County 69-48 to win the 3A North Half Title and earn a No. 1 seed in the state tournament.
Friday’s game against Aberdeen proved to be an intense showdown between two good schools.
"It was a dog fight,” East Side head coach Leroy Cotton said. “This was the best high school basketball game I've been a part of in a long time. I want to congratulate my guys for fighting as hard as they did. To play in a hostile environment and find a way to win is great. They played very well.”
The Trojans trailed Aberdeen 34-31 at halftime and were down 48-43 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final period with the teams exchanging baskets, East Side was dealt a tough blow as John Paul Davis fouled out of the game.
With under a minute left to play and the game locked at 60-60, East Side's Clarence Stewart was fouled and made two free throws to give the Trojans a 62-60 lead.
Aberdeen's Nick Simms tied the game back up at 62-62 and following an East Side miss, Charles Jackson was called for his fifth foul and was disqualified from play. Bobby Jones Jr., picked up another foul on Marcus Carouthers and sent him to the line where he made two free throws for a 64-62 Aberdeen lead.
With the game hanging in the balance and two of their top players out, the Trojans looked to Stewart and he delivered with a three-point shot with seven seconds remaining in the game for a 65-54 score, which proved to be the winning shot.
"The guys really stepped up,” Cotton said. “Clarence Stewart played the way he has been playing and hit some big shots for us in that game. We just wanted to get the opportunity and now that we have it we are going to do our best to go all the way. We have a positive attitude, and we talked about keeping the tradition alive and continuing to play good basketball.”
Stewart led the Trojans with 23 points, followed by Jackson with 16 points, Davis with 12 points, nine rebounds and eight blocks and Perry Henry with 10 points.
In Saturday’s win over Kemper County, Davis led the Trojans with 27 points, followed by Charles Jackson with 11 points and Perry Henry with 10 points.
East Side is scheduled to play in the first round of the state tournament on Saturday against Morton (No. 2 South) at 8 p.m.