'Small' works for Eagles in 8th-grade win over Zoneton

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By Mike Farner

 MOUNT WASHINGTON – It might be basketball, but there are still times where small and quick can get the best of a bigger basketball team.

     That was the case on Thursday night in the championship game of the Boy’s Bullitt County Middle School Basketball Tournament at Eastside Middle School.

     Putting on an offensive showcase, the Eastside Eagles scored 36 points in the first half and then rolled to a 66-41 victory over the Zoneton Timberwolves.

     The tournament this season was sponsored by Schmid Funeral Home along with The Awards Center, Reach 95.7 and The Pioneer News.

     The two programs had played two close games during the regular season with Eastside winning both times by single-digits. That is what both coaches expected on Thursday, but it never happened.

     “We’re feeling pretty good right now,” first-year Eastside head coach Kevin Ezell said as his team cut down the nets.

     The Eagles got 35 points from guards Luke Ezell (19) and Sean Johnson (16) and they also set the pace for the game.

     “That’s really what we have been doing for three years,” Ezell pointed out. “Our guard play is so strong it’s hard for teams to match up. Sean and Luke have been together since they were five years old.”

     The title was the fifth in the last six seasons for Eastside. The team is now 22-6 this season and will compete in the Kentucky State Middle School Tournament in two weeks.

     This was the fifth time Zoneton head coach Casey Bannon has had a team come up short in the championship game.

     “Their shots were falling like crazy,” she said. “They are a great shooting team. That is what happens when the other team makes shots and you don’t.”

     Zoneton (15-9) had the number two seed for the tournament behind Eastside. The Eagles had beaten the Timberwolves by four- and eight-points in the two regular season meetings.

     “We like to speed the game up,” Bannon noted. “Our goal is to drive it inside. We condition a ton so we can play up and down the floor. They packed it in with the 2-3 (zone). When we did get good looks, the pass was not there. It happens.”

     Eastside never trailed in the game as they raced out to a 16-6 lead in the first quarter before leading 18-9 at the first stop. The Eagles scored 18 points again in the second quarter as the margin ballooned to 36-21.

     The final 25-point margin was the largest of the game for Eastside.

     Ezell pointed out that his team had scored in the 60s a handful of times earlier in the season and had even reached 70 points in one game. Eastside only had five three-pointers in the win.    


Boys’ 7th-grade

Middle School

Basketball Tourney

Championship Game

     ZONETON 41 (9-12-12-8) Peyton Luttrell 5, Tyce Hornback 2, Mario Convenuto 6, Noah Nida 12, Connor Hill 6, Jacob Darnell 10, Josh Bowling, Tyler Smith, Andrew Robey, Bryce Henson, Coleman Tucker, Jacob Branham, Sean Allen.

     EASTSIDE 66 (18-18-13-17) Luke Ezell 19, Caden Dowell 10, Tyler Harris 4, Sean Johnson 16, Zach Thomas 4, Jackson Gasser 9, Chandler Youngs 2, Logan Coleman 2, Kevin Page, Trent Bentley.