Kyle Cannon is turning into the Nick Saban of Warren County elementary basketball. All he does is win championships.
Cannon saw his Eastside Bulldogs claim the county championship Friday night at Irving College, beating the Tigers 44-21. Kingston Judkins was the catalyst for the Bulldogs, scoring a game-high 14 points while Amarion Verge’s 10 points in the first half allowed Eastside to go up early and cruise to a perfect season.
Eastside was coming off a District 2 championship just three nights earlier, but the Tigers weren’t going to go down without a fight. Irving College earned its way to the county championship by beating previously unbeaten Hickory Creek a night earlier in the District 1 title game and had aspirations of ending another perfect year for an opponent Friday.
In the end, the Bulldogs were just too tenacious on defense to be beaten.
“I thought Irving College came out and played really well,” said Cannon after winning another championship, giving him at least 10 during his years coaching elementary girls and boys basketball at Eastside and Morrison. “They have one of the better guards we’ve seen this year and a good big man inside. They gave us a good run for a little bit, but our defense harassed them the whole game.”
If outside shooting from Judkins and Verge’s ability to get to the basket wasn’t enough for Eastside, the team’s dominant defense made sure of the win. Eastside held the Tigers to just four field goals in the title game, though Irving College did manage to hit 13 free throws throughout the night.
Cannon has always leaned on his defense over the years and this year’s iteration was able to play his full-court style to perfection.
“We’ve got quick, aggressive guards who get after it. They trap well and put pressure on the whole game. Our bigs can move their feet and will stop the ball. It’s just a well-balanced group,” said Cannon.
Judkins drilled a pair of 3-pointers in the first half, allowing Eastside to jump out front 30-13 by halftime. Braylon Burch’s flurry of buckets in the third quarter – the Bulldog guard got out in transition for a trio of makes after the break – made the Eastside lead swell to 38-18 by the fourth quarter.
With the game all but decided in the final six minutes, both fanbases still got some exciting moments down the stretch. Irving College’s faithful fans went bonkers when Ridge Green swished back-to-back free throws and Michael Ferrell got on the board from the charity stripe, while Eastside’s bench was ecstatic when Landon Jordan got a layup to roll in right before the final buzzer.
When it was finally over, Cannon was able to relax and reflect on adding even more hardware to Eastside’s ever-growing trophy case.
“It always feel good,” said Cannon about winning another title. “These boys worked hard all year. They are a great group and work hard every day. They’re well behaved, they listen and they deserved it tonight.”
Eastside scoring – Judkins 14, Verge 10, Burch 6, Maddex Usie 4, Kaiden Bell 2, Lucas Baxter 2, Landon Knight 2, Landon Jordan 2, Tayshawn Cummings 2
Tiger scoring – Mikey Fults 9, Eastlan Green 8, Ridge Green 2, Nicolas Castenada 1, Michael Ferrell 1