Eastside, Daniel battle with state berth on the line

Eastside, Daniel battle with state berth on the line

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Eastside, Daniel battle with state berth on the line

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Having led Bowman and Holly Hill-Roberts to five state championships between 1989 and 1999, Willie Thomas has a pretty good idea of what it takes.

Having led his current team, Lower Richland, against Eastside in the third round three days ago, Thomas has seen what the Eagles bring to the table.

“They have the pieces they need,” said Thomas, whose Diamond Hornets lost to Eastside 52-36. “They have shooters. They have ball-handlers. They have big guys. That’s the ingredients for winning. And if you have a good, steady guard who understands what he’s doing and can kind of control the team, then you have a chance.”

Thomas said Nigel Owens does that for Eastside, and Keil Sherman “is good with the ball. He’s confident.”

That’s good guard play to go with senior forward Davaris McGowens, the two-time Class AAA Player of the Year. The Eagles (24-3) will have that and more when they face Daniel (21-6) for the Class AAA Upper State title at 6:30 tonight at the Bi-Lo Center.

Daniel, led by senior all-state shooting guard Justin Dotson, defeated Southside in the second round and then A.C. Flora in the third. Southside battled Eastside down to the wire in the Peach Blossom AAA Region.

While Eastside is seeking its first state title, Daniel won three years with Dotson playing a key role as a freshman and backcourt mate of DeAndre Hopkins.

* The Class A Upper State championship game features a pair of battle-tested teams whose records are indicative of their preparation.

Christ Church (18-8) will be in search of its 18th consecutive victory when it plays Lewisville (14-11) at 12:30 p.m.

Christ Church lost eight of its first nine games, but only one of the losses came against a Class A school.

Likewise, Lewisville lost its first six games, all against Class AAA and AAAA schools, and only two of its 11 losses have come against Class A opponents.

Christ Church has been led by all-state senior guard Jeb Helmers, who’s averaging 30.3 points in the playoffs.

* Having reached the state semifinals for the first time in a decade, Wren (24-3) will have a tall order when it takes on Lower Richland (24-0) in the Class AAA Upper State girls championship game at 5 p.m.

Lower Richland, which won four straight state titles from 2006 through 2009, lost to eventual state champion Dreher in the Lower State final last year. Wren beat Dreher in the third round Monday.

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