TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — A 28-8 surge over the middle two quarters ultimately allowed the Eastern girls basketball team to cruise to a 54-28 victory over visiting Southern on Monday night in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division contest between Meigs County teams at the Eagle’s Nest.
The host Lady Eagles (7-4, 6-1 TVC Hocking) found themselves in a quite a dog fight for roughly 13 minutes as the Lady Tornadoes (0-12, 0-8) found themselves staring at an 18-16 deficit with 2:42 remaining in the first half.
The Green and White, however, mustered a pair of a 4-0 runs around a Southern basket over the final 2:12 of the second frame, allowing the hosts to secure their largest lead of the half at 26-18 as both squads entered the break.
The Purple and Gold were ultimately never closer as the Eastern defense forced the guests into six turnovers and three missed shots while making a 10-0 run out of the intermission, allowing the Lady Eagles to extend their cushion out to 36-18 with 4:30 remaining in the third.
Southern ended its scoring drought with a Kayla Evans basket at the 3:48 mark, but the hosts closed the third canto with a quick 6-1 spurt to secure a 42-21 advantage headed into the finale.
Phoenix Cleland trimmed the deficit down to 15 points (42-27) with a pair of free throws at the 4:57 mark, but the guests were never closer the rest of the way.
Brielle Newland capped a 12-1 run over the final 4:44 of regulation with a basket just before the buzzer sounded, wrapping up the 26-point outcome — the largest lead of the night.
Southern held a 7-3 lead midway through the first quarter and was never down by more than two possessions for all but six seconds of the first half.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well in the first half, as Eastern went 11-of-29 from the field while the guests were 7-of-23 overall. The difference, however, came on the glass, where the Lady Eagles claimed a 21-11 edge that included a 9-1 discrepancy on the offensive boards.
Those extra chances from point-blank range proved to be huge later on in the game. As SHS coach Alan Crisp noted, it really ended up being the difference in the final outcome.
“We had a pretty good start because we stuck to the plan of making them beat us outside, but we just didn’t rebound with them. We gave up way too many offensive rebounds under the bucket,” Crisp said. “We just couldn’t score in the second half and it all kind of went bad from there. The girls are still battling and playing hard though, and I do give them credit for that.”
Southern committed 11 of the 20 turnovers between the teams in the first half, but the third quarter ended up being the back-breaker as the hosts forced nine turnovers without committing a single miscue themselves.
The end result was a 16-3 charge that inflated the lead out to double digits while limiting Southern to just just a single basket in the third. The Lady Tornadoes also made just three field goals and had 16 turnovers after halftime.
After a less than perfect start, EHS coach Jacob Parker noted that his troops did everything they needed to do to get out with this victory — particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
“We came out a little bit slow, and sometimes that’s just basketball. Sometimes shots just don’t fall and Southern had a good defensive plan for us early on,” Parker said. “We made some adjustments and started relying a little bit more on our defensive effort, and that’s when our offense started clicking. I’m proud of the girls for making the adjustments and the effort they put in tonight. That was what got us this win tonight.”
The Lady Eagles outrebounded Southern by a 38-29 overall margin, which included a 15-4 edge on the offensive boards. The hosts also committed 15 turnovers, compared to 27 giveaways by the Purple and Gold.
Eastern netted 24-of-62 field goal attempts for 39 percent, including a 2-of-17 effort from behind the arc for 12 percent. The Green and White also went 4-of-12 at the free throw line for 33 percent.
Olivia Barber led EHS with a game-high 14 points, followed by Alyson Bailey with nine points and Kennadi Rockhold with eight markers. Jess Parker and Ashton Guthrie were next with six and five points, respectively.
Kelsey Casto and Whitney Durst both contributed four points each, while Newland and Tessa Rockhold completed the winning tally with two points apiece.
Kennadi Rockhold paced the hosts with eight rebounds, with Parker and Casto each hauling in seven caroms for the victors.
Southern made 10-of-43 field goal attempts for 23 percent, including a 4-of-14 effort from 3-point range for 29 percent. The guests — who were 0-for-7 from behind the arc in the second half — also went 4-of-5 at the charity stripe for 80 percent.
Evans paced the Lady Tornadoes with 12 points, followed by Phoenix Cleland with seven points and Ella Cooper with four markers. Jordan Hardwick and Shelby Cleland were next with two points apiece, while Saelym Larsen completed the scoring with a single point.
Hardwick led SHS with seven rebounds, with Phoenix Cleland and Evans respectively hauling in six and five caroms.
Both teams return to TVC Hocking action Thursday as Eastern travels to Miller and Southern goes to Federal Hocking. Both games will start at 6 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.