RACINE, Ohio — It’s hard to say which was better, Eastern’s offense or its defense.
The Lady Eagles shot over 53 percent from the field and recorded 20 steals, as the Green, White and Gold claimed a 64-41 decision over Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division host Southern, on Monday night in Meigs County.
All three of the game’s lead changes came in the first four minutes, with Eastern (15-2, 11-1 TVC Hocking) taking a 6-5 lead at the 4:20 mark of the opening stanza and never relinquishing the advantage.
In the first quarter, EHS led by as much as nine, at 15-6, with 1:00 to play. However, Southern (9-7, 6-5) scored the final five points of the period, cutting its deficit to 15-11.
The Lady Tornadoes were held scoreless for the first two minutes of the second period, as Eastern pushed its lead to 22-11. Southern outscored the Lady Eagles by an 11-10 clip in the final six minutes of the first half, making Eastern’s halftime lead 32-22.
The Purple and Gold cut their deficit to five points within the first minute of the second half, but Eastern answered with a 7-2 run and led 39-29, with 5:22 left in the third. Southern trimmed the deficit back to six points with a 6-2 run, but the Lady Eagles scored the final five points of the third and led 46-35, with one quarter to play.
Southern was never closer than 11 in the finale, with Eastern leading by as much as 24 en route to the 64-41 victory.
“We’re trying to pride ourselves on defense, being aggressive, not changing our game plan and getting the turnovers that we can, when we can,” first-year EHS head coach Jacob Parker said. “I’m always happy when we shoot the ball well, it makes our offenses run a lot better, too. We’re getting better at looking for the right shots out of our offense.”
The Lady Eagles have now won four straight games overall and seven consecutive games within the TVC Hocking. Eastern is now 8-0 away from ‘The Nest’, this season. Southern had won back-to-back games prior Monday.
The Lady Tornadoes won the rebounding battle by a 28-16 count, including 14-to-7 on the offensive glass. However, Southern committed 29 turnovers, while Eastern gave the ball away just 11 times. EHS also held advantages in steals (20-to-2), assists (16-to-10) and blocked shots (2-to-1).
“I thought we played pretty well, other than the turnovers,” third-year SHS head coach Kent Wolfe said. “Once we got in our offense, we were okay, but we couldn’t get it from volleyball 10-foot line to volleyball 10-foot line. Our effort was tremendous, I thought we really played hard tonight. I think we executed, at times, pretty well.”
For the game, Eastern shot 28-of-52 (53.8 percent) from the field, including 7-of-20 (35 percent) from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Southern was 14-of-40 (35 percent) from the field, including 3-of-11 (27.3 percent) from deep. EHS shot just 1-of-6 (16.7 percent) from the free throw line, while Southern was 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) from the stripe.
EHS senior Laura Pullins led the victors on both ends of the floor, posting 27 points, seven rebounds, three assists, nine steals and one blocked shot. Jess Parker poured in 17 points to go with three assists and four steals, Becca Pullins chipped in 13 points and four steals, while Alyson Bailey marked five points and three assists. Elizabeth Collins rounded out the EHS scoring total with two points, to go along with a blocked shot.
SHS senior Faith Teaford led the Purple and Gold with a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds, to go with the team’s lone blocked shot. Josie Cundiff scored eight points for Southern, while Sierra Cleland and Macie Michael both scored four points, with Cleland marking a game-best five assists and Michael recording a team-high four steals. Baylee Wolfe and Jaiden Roberts rounded out the SHS offense with three and two points respectively.
The Lady Eagles also won the first meeting between these teams, by a 65-37 count, in Tuppers Plains on December 15. Eastern and Southern had split the regular season series, at one game apiece, in each of the last two years.
Both teams return to action on Thursday, with Eastern hosting Wahama, and Southern visiting Belpre.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.