Despite struggling throughout the game, East Side head coach Leroy Cotton managed to pull enough out of his team, particularly from his bench to help spark the Trojans to a 60-49 victory.
"This was a grind-it-out game for us tonight. I'm always proud of their effort, even when we make a lot of mistakes and play bad. We hung in there and were able to get the job done," said Cotton.
In the first half, East Side's starting five started the game very slow and flat. Cotton recognized this and toward the end of the first quarter with the Trojans trailing 7-4, he made substitutions.
One of the key substitutions was freshman forward Bobby Jones, Jr. who helped sparked the Trojans with strong play. Jones scored 10 points in the first half to help give East Side a 20-15 halftime lead.
"They (reserves) have been getting better all year and working hard in practice,” Cotton said. “My veterans didn't come out and play hard so I decided to sit them and try the young guys and they answered the call. They played great and gave us the spark we needed.”
The Trojans came out in the third and outscored Leflore 8-3 to start the period for a 28-18 lead. Over the next few minutes Leflore answered back as they outscored East Side 13-2 to take a 31-30 lead. Leflore led East Side 35-34 at the end of the third quarter.
LeAndrew Banyon started the fourth quarter with a three-point ball to give East Side a 37-35 lead and the Trojans never looked back as they made clutch baskets and went 12-of-14 from the free throw line in the quarter to end the contest.
Jon Paul Davis led East Side with 14 points, followed by Charles Jackson with 12, Jones with 10 and Brant Williams with nine.
The Trojans will now play J.J. McClain at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Ruleville Boys 72, Leland 64
The Ruleville Central Tigers had to dig deep to pull out the eight-point victory over the Leland Cubs.
Ruleville held a 37-26 lead over Leland at halftime, but sharp shooting from the Cubs kept them in the ball game throughout the second half.
Leland had their chances, but trailing by three points at 63-60, the Cubs’ Mose Dixon could not convert on two lay-ups in traffic that could have swung the momentum of the game.
During that time, the Tigers kept plugging away and closed out the game outscoring Leland 9-3 to take the victory.
Demarcus Bracey and Xavier Appleberry led the way for Ruleville with 23 points each, followed by Tyquan Rule and Kordarius Phillips with eight points each.
The Tigers (16-6) will now take on Velma Jackson at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Ruleville Girls 56, Leland 16
It was an easy day for the Ruleville Central Lady Tigers as they took care of the Leland Lady Cubs by 40-points.
Robrieka Finn led Ruleville with 15 points, followed by Brunetta Cockrell and Shakira Singleton scored 12 points each in the win.
The Lady Tigers (15-7) will take on Velma Jackson at 4 p.m. Thursday.
J.J. McClain Girls 64, Leflore County 46
The Lady Mustangs of J.J. McClain played a strong game as they defeated the Leflore County Lady Tigers.
Carmiesha Nalls scored 30 points to lead J.J. McClain in the win. Shanecia Beckworth led Leflore with 13 points.
McClain will play the East Side Trojanettes at 7 p.m. Thursday.