THE PLAINS, Ohio — The Lady Eagles have gotten a custom to postseason success.
The Eastern girls basketball team won its eighth straight sectional title Thursday night with a 78-24 victory over Federal Hocking at Charles McAfee Gymnasium on the campus of Athens High School.
Eastern (19-4) dominated both ends of the floor from the opening buzzer, out scoring Federal Hocking (6-14) 26-to-5 in the opening quarter, while forcing the Lady Lancers into 13 turnovers.
The Lady Eagles kept the intensity in the second period with a 27-to-5 run that gave them a 53-10 halftime lead. Eastern held a 12-to-6 rebounding advantage and a 20-to-2 turnover advantage at the break.
Eastern slowed the pace after halftime but didn’t allow a field goal to FHHS in the third period. The Green and White held a 68-16 advantage with eight minutes remaining.
On cruise control the Lady Eagles out scored Federal Hocking 10-to-8 in the finale to seal the 78-24 victory and the sectional crown.
“I’m just glad the girls came out and played hard,” Eastern coach John Burdette said. “Hopefully we are learning that every game counts right now and every possession counts right now. That’s the one thing I hope they’ve learned over the years, honestly.”
The Lady Eagles were led by Jordan Parker with 19 points and Erin Swatzel with 16. Maddie Rigsby finished with 12 points, Katie Keller marked 10 and Jenna Burdette added nine. Seniors Savannah Hawley and Tori Goble both had four points, while Taylor Palmer and Morgan Barringer finished with two points each.
Burdette finished with game-highs in assists with 11 and rebounds with seven. Parker and Goble each finished with five assists in the game, while Swatzel, Keller, Parker and Goble each had four rebounds. The Lady Eagles defense was led by Palmer and Parker with three steals apiece, followed by Burdette and Keller with two each. Swatzel, Burdette and Keller each had one block in the game.
As a team the Lady Eagles finished with 34 rebounds, 30 assists, 14 steals and three blocks. Eastern committed just six turnovers and 11 personal fouls in the game. The Green and White shot 3-of-4 (75 percent) from the free throw line and 36-of-65 (55.4 percent) from the field, including 3-of-10 (30 percent) from beyond the arc. Parker accounted for a pair of EHS triples, while Burdette had the other.
Federal Hocking was led by Ashton Cale and Whitney Gillian with six points apiece, followed by Megan Thompson with five and Cheyenne Singer with four. Carly Tabler added two points, while McKenzie Steele rounded out the FHHS total with one point.
Gillian led the Lady Lancers with six rebounds, followed by Steele with three. Thompson and Ashley Roberts paced the Maroon and Gold with two assists each, while Cale had the team’s lone steal.
Federal Hocking as a team finished with 16 rebounds, five assists and one steal. The Lady Lancers committed 29 turnovers and nine fouls in the game. FHHS shot 8-of-14 (57.1 percent) from the line and 7-of-28 (25 percent) from the field, including 2-of-10 (20 percent) from beyond the arc. Gillian accounted for both FHHS triples.
This marks the third victory for Eastern over the Lady Lancers this season. The first came on December 13th in Tuppers Plains by a count of 62-16, and the second came on January 7th in Stewart by a count of 64-15.
EHS also knocked Federal Hocking from the tournament last season, but that game was in the sectional semi-final. EHS has now one sectional titles in 15 of the last 16 years.
The Lady Eagles will play Manchester in the district semi-final at Jackson High School on February 21st at 6:15.