GAINESVILLE -- Web Daniel says his team's offense is still a work in progress at times.
But -- as his Lady War Eagles showed on Friday -- when you can play defense and shoot free throws, you don't need an offensive juggernaut to be successful.
The Chestatee girls forced 28 turnovers and sank 21 of 26 free throw attempts to help push past Eastside 50-39 in Gainesville, more than making up an off night shooting, as the Lady War Eagles sank just three 3-pointers on the night.
"Their pressure was tough, and it made it hard for us to get in an offensive rhythm, but we made the shots when we had to," Daniel said. "And the free throw shooting was big for us late."
Chestatee (15-3, 4-0 Region 8-AAAA) drained 12 of 14 free throws during the fourth quarter, more than offsetting four made 3-pointers for Eastside over the final eight minutes.
"We're the smallest team in the region, so we normally get it done on the perimeter, but we didn't have to shoot well outside to win tonight, and that was nice," Daniel said.
Bridgette Kelly certainly did her part to aid the victory, as the senior put up a game-high 23 points split almost evenly over both halves.
"She can get to the basket, and she's been great for us," Daniel said. "She can do a lot on the floor, and she's a good free throw shooter too."
Kelly drilled her only 3-pointer of the night with 1:46 left in the third quarter to answer an Eastside run that saw the visitors pull within 32-24. She then sank key free throws to help Chestatee ice the contest after Eastside crawled to within 42-36 with 2:15 left to play.
Kayla Watson added nine for the Lady War Eagles, while Savanna Long added seven.
The way things started, it appeared Chestatee was set for a blowout win, as the Lady War Eagles sprinted to a 10-0 lead while forcing seven quick Eastside turnovers. But Jam Smith and Zaria Barton combined to haul the visitors back into the contest, Smith drilling two of her four 3-pointers on the night to trim Chestatee's advantage to 15-10 at the end of the quarter.
Watson and Long each hit treys to help Chestatee maintain its lead in the second quarter, though Barton hit one of her four 3-pointers to keep Eastside in the contest, trailing 26-18 at the half.
Chestatee would not let Eastside get much closer, however, forcing nine turnovers in the third quarter to take a 36-27 advantage before holding off a late 3-point barrage in the fourth quarter.
The Lady War Eagles will look to maintain their unblemished region record on Tuesday when they travel to face Walnut Grove.
"We've played pretty well so far; the defense has really played well," Daniel said. "We've got to shoot well to help us, but if we can play defense every night we're tough to beat."
EASTSIDE BOYS 55,
The War Eagles pulled within 10 points with 5:30 remaining only to watch the visitors sprint away down the stretch for the win in Gainesville.
Caleb Jameson led the War Eagles (4-13, 0-4 Region 8-AAAA) with 10 points.
Anthony Henderson scored a game-high 15 for Eastside (14-2, 3-0).