TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — You can never expect to win if you give your opponents a five-minute head start.
The Eastern girls basketball team was held scoreless until the 2:55 mark of the first quarter Thursday night, by Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division guest Southern. The Lady Eagles never recovered as SHS claimed the 60-45 victory.
The Lady Tornadoes (3-1, 2-0 TVC Hocking) had built an 11-point lead by the time Eastern (1-1, 1-1) finally scored, but the Lady Eagles finished the opening stanza on a 5-0 run.
Southern hit 10-of-15 field goal attempts in the second quarter, and the Purple and Gold increased their lead to 36-13 at halftime. The Lady Tornadoes had outrebounded EHS 25-to-16 in the first half and held a 46.7-to-17.9 advantage in field goal percentage.
Eastern came out of the halftime break refocused on the defensive end, forcing six turnovers in the third period, while holding the Lady Tornadoes to just 1-of-8 shooting from the field. The Green and Gold hit 2-of-3 three-point attempts in the third quarter and trimmed the deficit to 41-29 with eight minutes to play.
Eastern’s comeback chances lessened in the final period with Madison Williams, Alyson Bailey and Kelsey Casto each fouling out. Southern’s Sierra Cleland was the lone Lady Tornado to foul out and the SHS advantage was never lower than 11 points in the fourth quarter. The Lady Tornadoes were 6-of-10 from the field and 7-of-11 from the free throw line in the finale, capping off the 60-45 triumph.
“Anytime you win a road game in the league it’s very important,” said second year SHS head coach Kent Wolfe. “We also know that Eastern is young, they’re good and they’re going to be loaded down the road.”
For the game, Southern shot 14-of-25 (56 percent) from the free throw line and 21-of-48 (43.8 percent) from the field, including 4-of-12 (33.3 percent) from beyond the arc. As a team the Lady Tornadoes had 47 rebounds, 15 offensive, 10 assist, 12 steals, five blocks, 30 turnovers and 21 fouls.
“We just shot the ball really well in the first half,” said Coach Wolfe. “We had a great practice last night and we came our really sharp. We’ve had the same shots the first three games, we just haven’t shot the ball well. Tonight, everybody contributed, everybody hit shots that we needed and it was just a total team effort.
Eastern shot 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) from the charity stripe and 18-of-69 (26.1 percent) from the field, including 4-of-24 (16.7 percent) from beyond the arc. The Lady Eagles had 34 rebounds, 21 on the offensive end, seven assists, 18 steals, two blocks, 19 turnovers and 25 fouls in the setback.
“When you look at us on the court we have four freshmen, three sophomores and one junior,” EHS head coach John Burdette said. “We missed a lot of bunnies and I think it’s just nerves. Southern played good defense, hat’s off to them, we didn’t hand it to them, they played hard and they earned it.”
SHS junior Faith Teaford led the Purple and Gold with 21 points, followed by Ali Deem with 12 and Jansen Wolfe with nine. Cleland had seven points, Haley Hill added six, Macie Michael finished with three, while Savannah Bailey ended with two points.
EHS was led by freshmen Rebecca Pullins and Jess Parker with 13 and 11 points respectively. Laura Pullins posted seven points, Bailey added six, while Williams and Elizabeth Collins each added four.
The Lady Tornadoes were led on the glass by Jansen Wolfe with 15 rebounds, followed by Teaford with 11 and Cleland with seven. Hill marked a team-best five assists, followed by Wolfe and Deem with two each. Deem led the SHS defense with four steals and a block, Wolfe added two steals and two blocks, while Hill had three steals. Teaford marked two blocks in the win, while Cleland had two steals.
Collins’ seven rebounds led Eastern, followed by Casto and Laura Pullins with six each. Laura Pullins led the EHS defense with seven steals and two blocks, while Collins and Bailey each added four steals. Parker and Laura Pullins each had 2 assists to lead Eastern.
“We have to grow up a little bit and mature,” Burdette said. “Two years ago everybody but one person was playing eighth grade basketball. I can’t get on them about the hustle, they work hard, we just don’t see what we need to see yet. It’s understandable, its not acceptable, it’s understandable, but we’ll get better.”
The Lady Tornadoes also won the first meeting with Eastern last season, but the Lady Eagles on the rematch. EHS will try to do the same this season when Southern hosts Eastern on January 11.
Southern returns to action on Monday at South Gallia, while EHS will try to bounce back on Monday at Miller.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.