TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — One team entered with a four-game winning streak, the other team left with one.
The Eastern girls basketball team had its four-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday afternoon at ‘The Nest’, as non-conference guest Oak Hill took a 58-52 overtime victory, giving the Lady Oaks their fourth straight win.
Eastern (11-2) never trailed in the first half, leading 16-to-10 by the end of the first quarter. The Lady Eagles led by as much as 15, at 28-13, 5:30 into the second quarter, but the Lady Oaks (10-3) ended the half with an 11-2 run, cutting the EHS lead to 30-24 at the halftime break.
The Lady Eagles began the second half with a 9-2 run, pushing the lead to 39-26 with 4:40 left in the third. Eastern only scored two more points in the period, however, as Oak Hill cut the deficit to 41-36 with eight minutes to play.
Eastern was held scoreless for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, and the Lady Oaks took their first lead of the game at 42-41, with 4:48 remaining in the period. The Lady Eagles regained the lead with a pair of free throws at the 3:54 mark of the quarter, but Oak Hill answered with a three-pointer and never trailed again.
The Lady Oaks scored four of the next six points, extending their lead to 49-45 with two minutes left. OHHS didn’t score in the final two minutes of regulation, going 0-for-3 from the charity stripe. EHS sophomore Becca Pullins sank a trifecta with 1:50 remaining and Kelsey Casto added a free throw with four seconds left, as the Lady Eagles tied the game at 49 and forced overtime.
The Lady Oaks broke the tie with 3:17 left, when Brianna Blanton converted an and-1 layup. Eastern pulled within one on a layup by Casto with 2:57 left, but OHHS ended the game with a 6-1 run, sealing the 58-52 victory.
“The girls came out, jumped on them early and played hard,” EHS head coach Jacob Parker said. “We looked really, really good, and then a few things happened in the ball game that just took our focus away a little bit. That’s what we need to work on as a team, keeping that focus, and I think we’ll be right there. Take nothing away from Oak Hill.”
On Saturday, depth was a major factor for Eastern, which entered the game with eight healthy players. The Lady Eagles lost Madison Williams to injury in the first quarter and had both Alyson Bailey and Elizabeth Collins foul out in the fourth quarter and overtime period respectively.
“I can’t stress enough how proud I am of the girls,” said Coach Parker. “I think we saw the most adversity that we’ll ever see in a game, today. We, for the most part, responded. When a couple of players go down and you don’t have a deep bench, it does make it for a rough night, but the girls just gritted their teeth and played through it.”
For the game, Eastern held a narrow 26-to-25 rebounding edge, with both teams pulling in 10 offensive boards. Eastern committed turnovers, two more than Oak Hill. Both teams finished with 14 assists, with OHHS holding a 16-to-13 steals advantage and Eastern claiming a 4-to-2 edge in blocked shots.
The Lady Eagles shot 18-of-47 (38.3 percent) from the field, including 6-of-19 (31.6 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, OHHS was 21-of-47 (44.7 percent) from the field, including 7-of-15 (46.7 percent) from deep. Eastern made 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) free throw attempts, while the Lady Oaks were 9-of-17 (52.9 percent) from the line.
The EHS offense was led by senior Laura Pullins with 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Becca Pullins scored nine points, Jess Parker added eight points, while Elizabeth Collins marked six points, eight rebounds and five assists. Rounding out the scoring column for the Green, White and Gold were Alyson Bailey with five points and Kelsey Casto with three.
Laura Pullins also led the EHS defense with four steals and two rejections, while Parker added four steals and Collins blocked two shots.
Bethany Blanton led the Lady Oaks with 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Brianna Blanton with next with nine points and six assists, while Caitlyn Brisker chipped in with seven points. Jalea Caldwell and Carlee Dempsey rounded out the OHHS scoring with five points apiece.
Bethany Blanton also led the OHHS defense with five steals, while Brianna Blanton added four steals and Caldwell blocked two shots.
Eastern continued non-league play on Monday at Meigs, and then will resume Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division play at Federal Hocking, on Thursday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.