‘Now it’s showing’ : Easley girls win first playoff game since ’05

EASLEY — When Ivan Raymond took over an Easley High School girls’ basketball program that had gone 10-86 over the previous five years in May 2019, playoff basketball must have seemed like a distant dream to the Green Wave.

On Wednesday night, that dream became a reality as the Easley girls took on Eastside in their first playoff game in 15 years, thrashing the Eagles in a 57-38 win.

“We knew this was big for our girls,” Raymond said of the Green Wave’s playoff win. “They’ve worked so hard. They spend five days a week either lifting or in the gym. The commitment they made didn’t show in year one, didn’t show in year two, but they kept going and now it’s showing.”

Easley senior forward Kylie Nabors has seen the program move from the doldrums to where it is now and attributes the change to the hard work of her teammates and their head coach.

“It’s turned around a lot, and a lot of that credit goes to Coach Raymond,” Nabors said. “He’s put in just as much work as we’ve put in, and he never gave up on us when things were bad.”

As glowing as Nabors was about her coach, Raymond was even more effusive about his lone senior after she played the entire game for the Green Wave in the postseason opener, putting up 15 points.

“She didn’t come out of the game, and even when she got tired, she just kept battling,” Raymond said. “I asked her after halftime, ‘You realize you have to go another half?’ and she said, ‘Coach, I’m good.’ The fight she shows is going to do wonders for us going forward.”

Nabors’ hard work was on display early and often on Wednesday night as she and junior guard Mattison Hayes combined for 20 first-half points to help Easley take a 30-17 lead at the break.

In the third, it seemed like the Green Wave were in trouble as the Eagles’ defensive pressure forced turnover after turnover and led to a 10-3 Eastside run. Even after breaking the momentum, the Green Wave struggled to pull away as Eastside’s Alaysia Nash, who scored a game-high 22 points, powered the Eagle offense until Easley junior sharpshooter Reagan Horn drilled a three to put the Wave ahead by nine heading to the fourth.

“They didn’t panic,” Raymond said. “Our girls just kept fighting and fighting and pushed that thing back out.”

The fourth quarter was all Easley, as the Wave shut down the Eagles to pull out the 57-38 win.

In addition to it being the program’s first playoff game since 2007, the win gave Easley its first postseason victory since a second-round win against North Augusta on Feb. 18, 2005.

The Green Wave (14-11) will have a shot at another second-round win on the road against third-ranked Catawba Ridge (21-2) on Friday. Raymond knows the matchup will be tough, but has plenty of faith in his girls.

“We went from 4-20 year one to getting knocked out in the last game last year to this,” Raymond said. “You can see the resiliency in our girls. They want to leave a legacy here, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”Easley 57, Eastside 38

Eastside 10 7 15 6 — 38

Easley 15 15 11 16 — 57

Easley (57) — Hayes 16, Nabors 15, Eron 8, Horn 7, McKinney 5, Leach 4, Waldrop 2.

Eastside (38) — Nash 22, Nutzman 8, Priester 3, Miles 2, Wilson 1.