JACKSON, Ohio — Quite a battle for four in a row.
The Eastern girls basketball team had its three-game winning streak snapped while host Jackson picked up its fourth consecutive victory Monday night during a thrilling 53-49 overtime decision in a non-conference matchup in the Apple City.
Both the visiting Lady Eagles (12-5) and Ironladies (9-7) battled through a dozen lead changes and eight ties throughout the course of 36 minutes, but the Red and White went a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw line as part of an 8-4 run in overtime — allowing JHS to secure the two-possession triumph.
Jackson went the final 4:51 of play without a field goal and shot only 34 percent from the floor overall, but the hosts managed to overcome a cold shooting performance with a hot hand at the free throw line. The Ironladies finished the night 19-of-20 at the charity stripe for 95 percent.
The Green and Gold, conversely, shot 39 percent overall and went 7-of-10 at the free throw line for 70 percent, but the guests also went 0-for-10 from beyond the three-point line.
EHS committed 12 turnovers — one fewer than Jackson — and was also outrebounded by a 29-26 overall margin, including a slim 7-6 discrepancy on the offensive glass.
On six different occasions, the Lady Eagles trailed by eight points — the last of which came at 30-22 with 7:13 remaining in the third canto. Eastern followed by holding the hosts to just six field goals over the next 19-plus minutes of play, which included a 23-15 surge over the final 15-plus minutes to knot things up at 45-all headed into overtime.
Laura Pullins hit two free throws nine seconds into the extra session to give EHS its only overtime lead at 47-45, but Rebekah Green and Lauren Parks each netted a pair of freebies over the next two minutes for a 49-47 Jackson advantage.
Elizabeth Collins came up with the only field goal in overtime following a game-tying basket with 49 seconds left, but Green sank two charity tosses with 31 seconds left and netted two more freebies with eight seconds remaining to complete the four-point outcome.
EHS coach John Burdette was disappointed with the end result, but there was little else that the eighth-year mentor could really find blame in — particularly the effort. As he noted, this was just a great teaching tool for his troops as the postseason approaches.
“Honestly, that was probably the most fun we’ve had in a game this year — except for the outcome. It was a good battle all the way through,” Burdette said. “I thought our girls stepped up and did a lot of little things better tonight than what we had been doing in the past few weeks.
“I told the girls afterwards that this was the perfect kind of game for us to get ready for the tournament because we had to earn everything we got from start to finish. Everyone now has a better understanding of what we need to work on from here on out.”
The Lady Eagles claimed their largest lead of the night after storming out to an 8-4 edge two minutes into the game, but the Ironladies countered with four straight points in the next minute to knot things up at eight.
Jess Parker followed by giving EHS its final lead of the first half following a basket at the 4:44 mark, but Green scored seven straight points as part of a 9-0 run to end the opening period — giving the hosts a 17-10 lead.
Eastern never came closer than five points (17-12) and was down eight points five different times in the second canto, but Alyson Bailey hit a short jumper with 13 seconds remaining to allow the guests to enter halftime trailing 28-22.
Ally Irwin gave JHS its final eight-point cushion (30-22) with a jumper at the 7:13 mark of the third, but the Green and Gold reeled off a 10-2 surge over the next six minutes to tie things up at 32-all. Parks, however, hit a trifecta with 35 seconds left, allowing the hosts to take a 35-32 lead into the finale.
Eastern opened the fourth on an 8-2 run to claim a 40-37 edge with 4:41 left, but Deb Hill converted an old-fashioned three-pointer 20 seconds later to tie things up at 40-all. Both teams traded leads over the next two minutes, but Amelia Davis netted a basket with 52 seconds remaining to give Jackson a 45-44 cushion.
Trailing by one, Eastern forced Jackson into a five-second violation on an inbounds play, then got Laura Pullins to the free throw line with 26.9 seconds remaining. Pullins converted the first of two free throws, which ultimately provided a 45-all tie at the end of regulation.
EHS — which connected on 21-of-54 field goal attempts — received a double-double effort from Laura Pullins with 15 points and 13 rebounds, followed by Collins with 12 points and Bailey with 10 markers. Becca Pullins added eight points and six boards, while Parker rounded out the Eastern tally with four points.
The Ironladies netted 15-of-44 field goal attempts overall, including a 4-of-15 effort from behind the arc for 27 percent. Green led the hosts with a game-high 23 points, followed by Davis with 10 points and Parks with eight markers.
Hill and Abby Waugh each had five points, while Irwin rounded out the winning tally with two markers. Waugh led JHS with nine rebounds and Davis also hauled in six caroms.
Eastern returns to TVC Hocking action Thursday when it travels to Wahama for a 6 p.m. contest.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.
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