Eastern girls face Lynchburg-Clay in Region II championship bout –
By Wade Linville –
High school hoop dreams have become reality for the Eastern Lady Warriors. With Wednesday’s 52-41 victory over Tuscarawas Valley in the Division III Regional semifinals at Logan High School, the Lady Warriors headed to the Elite 8.
“Being in the Elite 8 is quite an accomplishment, but we are not satisfied there,” said Eastern head coach Kevin Pickerill following the win over Tusky Valley. “As long as the kids continue to buy into the process we have a great opportunity for big things to happen.”
The Lady Warriors, now 25-1, are no strangers to the team they were scheduled to face in the regional finals at Logan High School on Saturday, March 11. In fact, the Lady Warriors defeated them twice in league play during the regular season to win the Southern Hills Athletic Conference Division I title.
Following the Lady Warriors’ win over Tusky Valley, the Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs (22-3) also took care of business in their Division III Regional Semifinal bout against Alexander to come away with a 65-52 victory and earn a berth in the Region 11 finals against the Eastern squad, guaranteeing that one team from the SHAC will be heading to the state tourney at Ohio State University’s Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus on March 17.
Size advantage played a key role in the Lady Warriors’ regional semifinal win over Tusky Valley with Eastern’s Triple Towers (6’1” junior Allison Day, 6’0” junior Mikayla Farris, and 6’0” sophomore Alexa Pennington) providing big contributions on both ends of the court.
In addition to the Triple Towers, outstanding play by a crew of skilled guards (junior Whiteny Broughton, sophomore Morgan Reynolds, senior Jensen Sowers, and freshman Camryn Pickerill), as well as senior post player Destinie Rose has also led to the Lady Warriors’ successful tournament run.
It was Sowers who came off the bench to provide a spark for the Lady Warriors in their win over Tusky Valley on Wednesday, as the senior guard entered the game with Eastern trailing 4-2 to come through with an old fashioned three-point play, putting her team on top 5-4 in the first quarter.
Sowers then grabbed a steal and cruised down the court for a quick score to expand the Lady Warriors’ lead to 7-4, helping the Eastern squad to establish control of the game.
At the end of the first period, the Lady Warriors held a 7-6 lead.
An assist by Farris for a bucket by Day kicked off scoring in the second quarter, lifting the Lady Warriors to a 9-6 lead.
A three-pointer by Broughton upped the Lady Warriors’ lead to 12-6.
On the other end of the court, the Lady Warrior defense continued to force Tusky Valley turnovers, and it was an assist by Day for a score by Broughton that would expand the Eastern lead to 14-6.
Reynolds found success throughout the game on aggressive drives through the heart of the Tusky Valley defense. The sophomore guard scored on a drive to the hoop around the midway point of the second quarter to lift the Lady Warriors to a 17-8 lead.
Once they were able to gain an early lead, the Lady Warriors never looked back.
At halftime, the Lady Warriors held a 23-15 advantage with Tusky Valley still within striking distance.
The Lady Warriors went on to outscore Tusky Valley 16-11 in the third quarter .
After scoring only one field goal in the first half, Day knocked down three field goals in the third quarter of play to help lift the Lady Warriors to a 39-26 lead.
Tusky Valley would outscore the Lady Warriors 15-13 in the fourth quarter of play, but the Lady Warriors were able to sink some late-game free throws to keep their lead in double figures and secure the win.
The Lady Warriors were able to hold Tusky Valley’s top player, junior guard Boston McKinney, to only seven points.
“Defene was pretty good, especially on McKinney,” said Pickerill. “I thought Sowers and Reynolds did an excellent job on her, especially in the third quarter when we were able to separate ourselves. I thought they both did well passing and finding the open people. I felt like Sowers really gave our offense a boost early on, which was much needed. As for Broughton, she had a big three-pointer in the third that also helped open up the inside.”
Leading the way in scoring for the Lady Warriors in their regional semifinal win over Tusky Valley was Farris with 12 points.
Day finished with 11 points, while Reynolds contributed with nine points.
Pennington ended the night with seven points.
Sowers shot for six points in the win, and Broughton fired for five pionts.
Rounding out Eastern’s scoring in the regional semifinal win was Rose with two points.
The Lady Warriors had a great deal of support in the stands as Eastern fans came out in large numbers to watch the Eastern girls in the regional semifinals.
After topping the Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs twice during the regular season, the Lady Warriors prepared for a tough battle in the regional finals as they sought their third win over a talented SHAC opponent.
When the two teams first faced in league play this season on Jan. 9 at Eastern High School it was the Lady Warriors pulling out a narrow 50-46 victory. The second time they faced during the regular season at Lynchburg on Jan. 26, the Lady Warriors came away with a 67-57 victory.
The Lady Warriors advanced to regional tourney play at Logan after topping Southeastern 40-27 to claim the Southeast District Division III title at Waverly High School on March 3.
The winner of the Region 11 championship at Logan High School will move on to face the winner of the Region 12 championship bout between No. 6 ranked Versailles (24-3) and No. 1 ranked Summit Country Day (27-0) in state tourney play on March 17.
EHS 7 16 16 13 – 52
TVHS 6 9 11 15 – 41
Eastern (52): Farris 5 2-4 12, Day 4 3-6 11, Reynolds 3 3-4 9, Pennington 2 3-5 7, Sowers 2 2-3 6, Broughton 2 0-0 5, Rose 1 0-0 2. Three-pointers: Broughton 1. Team: 19 13-22 52.
Tuscarawas Valley (41): Hall 5 2-3 13, Stewart 2 6-6 10, McKinney 2 2-2 7, Franks 2 0-0 6, Dillon 1 0-0 3, Kuykendall 1 0-0 2. Three-pointers: Franks 2, Dillon 1, McKinney 1, Hall 1. Team: 13 10-11 41.