TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — A little effort went a long way.
A 16-2 run over the final 3:14 of the third quarter provided the Eastern girls basketball team all the breathing room it needed Thursday night following a 57-43 victory over visiting Federal Hocking in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division matchup at the Eagle’s Nest in Meigs County.
The Lady Eagles (9-3, 7-2 TVC Hocking) found themselves deadlocked at 20-all at halftime and held a mere 31-29 edge following a Destiny Tabler bucket at the 3:31 mark of the third, but the hosts suddenly found their rhythm after turning up the defensive intensity over the rest of the frame.
EHS followed with a 10-0 surge for a 41-29 cushion at the 1:40 mark, then the Green and Gold ended the period with a small 6-2 run to secure a 47-31 advantage. The Lady Lancers (1-12, 1-8) trailed by as many as 22 points (55-33) with 4:37 remaining in regulation and ultimately never came closer than the final 14-point outcome.
Eastern has now won three straight decisions and also claimed a season sweep of Fed Hock after posting a 76-57 win in the season opener at Stewart back on November 30.
EHS coach John Burdette paid tribute to a respectable effort by the Lady Lancers, but the eighth-year frontman was also a little concerned about the way his team handled things in the first half.
“I thought we had gotten over not being able to play 32 minutes of basketball, but Federal Hocking came out and hit some shots and played well in the first half,” Burdette said. “They had a good intensity to them in the first half and we just kind of went with it. To me, that just feels like a little bit of a step backwards for us.
“We have to cut down on the simple turnovers and we have to bring that intensity that we had in the second half with us into the start of games every night. If we play with that intensity from the start, it’s a lot tougher for opposing teams to handle.”
EHS led 10-5 after eight minutes of play, but the guests countered with a 15-10 second quarter run that knotted things up at 20-all entering the break. Becca Pullins gave Eastern a permanent lead with a bucket at the 7:12 mark of the third, which in turn ignited a 6-0 run over the opening two minutes for a 26-20 cushion.
Fed Hock whittled the lead down to 28-25 following a Tabler basket at the 4:23 mark, then the Maroon and Gold came up with a small 4-3 spurt to close to within two points with 3:31 remaining in the third. Laura Pullins scored half of Eastern’s points during that pivotal 16-2 run that gave the hosts a 16-point lead headed into the finale.
Jess Parker and Alyson Bailey paced Eastern with 15 points apiece, followed by Laura Pullins with 13 points and Becca Pullins with eight markers. Kelsey Casto and Annalisa Boano rounded out the winning tally with four and two points. The hosts were also 13-of-18 at the free throw line for 72 percent.
Tabler paced the Lady Lancers with 13 points, followed by Hannah Dunfee with nine points and Grace Beha with eight markers. Kaylli McPherson was next with four points, while Audrey Blake, Faith Bennett-Wolfe, Olivia Russell and Skylar Hatfield each contributed two markers.
Jordan Gillian had one point to round out the scoring for FHHS, which went 7-of-15 at the charity stripe for 47 percent.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.