WISE — In the sixth meeting this season, the Spartans took on the Raiders with the winner receiving a berth in the Class 1 state title game on Saturday.
The Raiders were looking to even the standings at three victories apiece; the Spartans were looking to avenge their most recent loss to Burton in the Region 1D championship game.
“There was a lot of things we knew that had to happen for us to beat a good Norton (Burton) team and some of those things happened. We had five players in double figures. That was going to be key for us,” Eastside head coach Patrick Damron said.
The game started off close as Burton started out with a 4-0 run. The Spartans quickly got back in it and delivered a huge blow early with their own 15-2 run.
“Initially we got up 4-0 and then we just got back on our heels a little bit,” Burton head coach Aaron Williams said. “They stripped us and we weren’t really strong with the ball. We got overpassed a little bit. And those turnovers led to easy buckets for them. That kind of hurt us. We rely a lot on our defense and I thought our offense didn’t give our defense a chance tonight, early especially.”
The first half was the demise for the Raiders as the Spartans held a 14-point lead at the half. The second half was very evenly matched with the Spartans only having a one-point advantage.
Overall, Eastside went 28-for-55 from the field to Burton’s 22-for-62.
The Raiders won the rebounding match 39-35.
Houston Thacker led the Raiders with a double-double of 27 points and 11 rebounds.
Thacker, who has signed to play football at UVa-Wise next year felt the sting of his last high school basketball game.
“Tonight we picked a bad night to be off our game,” Thacker said. “It’s tough. I wouldn’t want to play with another group of guys or for any other coach. This has definitely been one of the most fun years of any sport I have ever played.”
The Spartans lost six seniors from the 2017-2018 team, including four starters. But, their goal all season has been to make their own mark.
“We basically put this team together in one year. Some of our guys didn’t have a lot of experience. Nick (Livingston) and Ethan (Powers) played a lot of minutes last year. They’re going to carry us on Saturday. I feel like their experience will pay off,” Damron said.
Livingston led Eastside with 16 points and eight rebounds. J.R. Kilgore and Powers had 13 points each. Chris Swann and Garrett Whited had 11 points apiece.
The Spartans will take on Surry County at 1 p.m. at the Siegel Center at VCU in Richmond Saturday for the Class 1 state championship.