JACKSON, Ohio — One bad run and the postseason is done.
The Eastern girls basketball team surrendered the first 11 points in the second half of Thursday’s Division IV district final at Jackson High School, and second-seeded EHS fell to top-seeded Portsmouth Notre Dame by a 48-38 final tally, ending the Lady Eagles’ season and their five-game winning streak.
Notre Dame (24-1) —winner of eight straight decisions — took the initial edge in the contest, but the Lady Eagles (15-9) took a 7-4 lead with an Alyson Bailey three-pointer at the 3:57 mark of the first quarter.
Back-to-back free throws by Jess Parker extended the Lady Eagle advantage to 9-4 with 3:08 left in the first, but Notre Dame ended the period with an 8-to-2 spurt and a 12-11 edge.
EHS senior Kelsey Casto made a free throw to open the second quarter and tie the game at 12, but a 9-to-2 run by the Lady Titans made the margin 21-14 with 2:55 left in the half. Bailey came up with the final three points of the half for the Lady Eagles, trimming the NDHS lead to 21-17 by the break.
Notre Dame sank four field goals and a trio of free throws over the first 2:33 of the second half, stretching its advantage to 32-17. Back-to-back buckets by Parker and Bailey stalled the spurt, but the Lady Titans immediately got those four points back and led 36-21 with 1:43 left in the third.
Eastern scored six of the final seven points in the period, but the Lady Titans began the fourth with a 6-to-2 run and led 43-29 with 5:55 to play. The Lady Eagles claimed the next seven points — five by Bailey and two by Parker — but were held scoreless for the next 2:30, as NDHS added two to its lead.
EHS sophomore Kennadi Rockhold made a two-pointer with 1:18 to go, cutting Notre Dame’s advantage to seven points, but the Lady Titans hit 3-of-4 free throws to seal the 48-38 victory.
Following the setback, third-year EHS head coach Jacob Parker talked about his team’s effort against the fifth-ranked team in the final D-4 AP Poll.
“I’m pretty damn proud of my girls, they executed the game plan very nicely,” Coach Parker said. “You take that 11-0 run out of it, who knows what could happen, but we don’t live in the land of what-ifs. Notre Dame is a great team, and played a great game. I know the scoreboard reflects something different, but I believe we gave them everything they wanted. I’m still super, super proud of my team.”
For the game, EHS shot 14-of-51 (27.5 percent) from the field, including 2-of-16 (12.5 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, Notre Dame was 18-of-44 (40.9 percent) from the field, including 2-of-13 (15.4 percent) from deep. At the foul line, Eastern was 8-of-11 (72.7 percent), while NDHS was 10-of-16 (62.5 percent).
The Lady Eagles claimed a narrow 28-to-27 rebounding edge, despite Notre Dame winning the offensive glass by an 11-to-9 count. Eastern also won the turnover battle by one, forcing 16 and committing 15. EHS had team totals of nine assists, eight steals and one block, while the Lady Titans combined for 10 assists, 10 rejections and nine steals.
Bailey led all-scorers with 19 points, featuring the Eastern’s only two three-pointers. Parker had 10 points and three assists for Eastern, Rockhold added six points and five rebounds, while Ashton Guthrie tallied two points. Casto rounded out the EHS total with one point, to go with eight rebounds and three assists.
Olivia Barber pulled in six rebounds in the setback, while Rockhold blocked a shot. Parker led the defense with four steals, followed by Bailey with two.
Katie Dettwiller paced the Lady Titans with 15 points, six rebounds and six rejections. Ava Hassel had 10 points and three assists for the victors, Isabel Cassidy added eight points, while Claire Dettwiller earned six points and six boards.
Olivia Smith had five points and three steals for NDHS, while Taylor Schmidt and Clara Hash scored two points apiece, with Schmidt also claiming a trio of steals.
The Lady Titans also defeated EHS in the regular season, winning 56-33 on Dec. 22 at ‘The Nest’.
This marks the final game in the Green and Gold for EHS seniors Jess Parker, Alyson Bailey and Kelsey Casto. Coach Parker acknowledged the impact his senior trio has made on the program, as well as what his younger group will have to do in order to continue the successful trend.
“I’m proud of these seniors,” Coach Parker said. “It’s not very often that seniors have the success that this group has had, and it’s not very often a school our size has played in the big games we’ve played in over their careers. I’m proud of our program and proud of what we’ve done. They’ve worked hard and they’ve put in the time, you just can’t ask for a better group than Jess, Alyson, and Kelsey. They come in and they give it all, all they can.
“The great thing is, we have a lot of sophomores, so if those girls buy in and give what they’ve got, I think the program is still looking very nice for the future. They have to work, I just told them, ‘you get out what you put in’. I believe they will get in the gym and good things will happen.”
This is the second year in a row that the Lady Eagles have been ousted by Notre Dame. The Lady Titans will be back at Jackson High School on Thursday to face second-seeded Peebles, which knocked off Waterford by a 50-39 count in Thursday’s second district final JHS.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.