TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — A great start to the game leads to a great start to holiday break.
In its final game before the Eastern girls basketball team takes some time off to celebrate the holiday season, the Lady Eagles claimed a 60-36 victory over non-conference guest Ironton St. Joseph.
The Lady Flyers (3-5) scored in the game’s opening minute, but Eastern outscored its guest 25-to-3 over the reminder of the first quarter and led 25-5 eight minutes into play.
The Lady Eagles — who forced six turnovers in the opening stanza — managed just two takeaways in the second canto, as their lead was cut to 33-17 at halftime.
Eastern’s defense came out of the break with renewed intensity, forcing five turnovers and allowing just five points in the third period. However, the Lady Eagles committed seven turnovers in the third and only managed to increase the lead to 45-22.
Six minutes into the finale, Eastern’s lead was at a game-high 28 points, but St. Joe scored the final two buckets and fell by a 60-36 count.
Eastern was led offensively by freshman point guard Jess Parker with 13 points and junior shooting guard Laura Pullins with 12. Madison Williams and Rebecca Pullins each scored 11 points, Elizabeth Collins and Kelsey Casto both added four, while Alyson Bailey and Annalisa Boano rounded out the Lady Eagle total with three and two points respectively.
Laura Pullins led EHS on the glass with 11 rebounds, followed by Williams and Boano with five each. Williams and Laura Pullins each posted three assists to lead the hosts, while Collins, Boano, Bailey and Rebecca Pullins each had two helpers. Laura Pullins led the Lady Eagles on the defensive end with four steals and two blocks, while Williams added three steals, and Collins had one steal and one block.
The Green and Gold shot 8-of-10 (80 percent) from the free throw line and 23-of-50 (46 percent) from the field, including 6-of-13 (46.2 percent) from beyond the arc. As a team Eastern finished with 21 defensive rebounds, 17 offensive rebounds, 15 assists, 10 steals, three blocks, 17 fouls and 15 turnovers.
“We did some things better, but we still don’t take care of the basketball very well and I’m sure that’s going to be a point of emphasis at practice,” eighth-year Eastern head coach John Burdette said. “Defensive pressure is also point of emphasis and I’m not sure why we don’t do it for four quarters yet, but we’re still growing.”
The Lady Flyers were led by Lynsey Booker and Ashley Bartrum with nine points and four rebounds apiece, followed by Morgan Turner with five points and two assists. Alyson Johnson scored four points, while Ashlee Blankenship, Grace Miller and Morgan Riley each scored with three points in the setback. Booker also led the SJHS defense with five steals.
The Purple and Gold shot 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) from the free throw line and 13-of-47 (27.7 percent) from the field, including 2-of-8 (25 percent) from beyond the arc. As a team St. Joe posted seven defensive rebounds, 12 offensive rebounds, three assists, seven steals, one block, six fouls and 15 turnovers.
Eastern dropped a regular season tilt at St. Joe last season, but went on to bounce the Lady Flyers from the sectional tournament.
The Lady Eagles return to action on January 4, when they visit Trimble for a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division showdown.
“Right now is a good time to take a break,” Burdette said. “I know some people keep going through it, but we’re going to take off until Monday. That will let them get wound back up and let their batteries charge.”
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.