TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — The third time was the charm … on the fifth time through.
The Eastern boys basketball team exorcised a bit of a historical demon after knocking off former coach Howie Caldwell for the first time in 15 chances Friday night with a 57-43 victory over visiting Trimble during a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup at the Eagle’s Nest in Meigs County.
The Eagles (7-3, 5-2 TVC Hocking) trailed the previously unbeaten Tomcats (7-1, 6-1) after each of the first two quarters of play, but the hosts rallied back from a seven-point halftime deficit with a pivotal 19-9 third quarter surge that gave the Green and White a slim 34-31 edge headed into the finale.
EHS netted 11-of-14 free throw attempts down the stretch as part of a 23-12 run to close regulation, allowing the Eagles to knock off their former mentor for the first time since he left the program at the end of the 2011 campaign.
Caldwell — who led the Eagles to the 2001 Division IV state semifinals while also capturing the program’s last league title back in 2011 — was previously unbeaten against Eastern after continuous stints at Federal Hocking and Trimble.
The Red and Gray led 7-6 after eight minutes of play, then Blake Guffey netted seven points as part of a 15-9 second period run that gave the guests a 22-15 halftime cushion.
The Tomcats, however, mustered only six field goals after the intermission as made seven baskets in the third quarter alone — leading to a 19-9 run and a three-point edge going into the fourth.
Garrett Barringer scored nine points down the stretch for EHS as part of the finishing 11-point swing that gave the Green and White a 14-point triumph.
The Eagles made 20 total field goals — including two trifectas — and also went 15-of-20 at the free throw line for 75 percent.
Barringer led the hosts with a game-high 19 points, followed by Mason Dishong with nine points and Ryan Dill with eight markers.
Sharp Facemyer was next with seven points and Isaiah Fish added six points. Blaise Facemyer and Colton Reynolds completed the winning tally with four points each.
The Tomcats netted 15 total field goals — including a quartet of 3-pointers — and also went 9-of-15 at the charity stripe for 60 percent.
Sawyer Koons paced the guests with 10 points, followed by Austin Wisor and Brayden Weber with nine markers apiece.
Jeremiah Brown was next with eight points, while Guffey completed the scoring with seven points.
The Eagles return to action Tuesday when they travel to Wahama for a TVC Hocking contest at 6 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.