JACKSON, Ohio – How sweet it is.
The Eastern girls basketball team will be making its fourth consecutive appearance in the sweet 16, after the Lady Eagles defeated Portsmouth Clay 84-30, Thursday night in the Apple City.
The Lady Eagles scored the game’s first 12 points and were aided by five three-pointers as they surged to the 23-8 lead through eight minutes.
Eastern held the Lady Panthers to seven points in the second stanza and pushed the lead to 47-15 at halftime. The Green and Gold outscored CHS 24-to-10 in the third quarter to extend the lead to 71-29.
Clay was held to just one point over the final eight minutes and Eastern cruised to the 84-30 district championship triumph.
“It’s still a district championship,” Eastern coach John Burdette said. “I told the girls it doesn’t matter how they feel like they’ve been here the school only has six, now seven in history, so it’s not easy and I needed to remind them of that before we came up here.”
Eastern’s scoring output was led by Jenna Burdette with 22 points and Jordan Parker with 20. Maddie Rigsby marked 12 points, Laura Pullins added 11, while Hannah Barringer had six in the win. Erin Swatzel and Katie Keller both had four points of EHS, Lindsey Hupp had three and Morgan Barringer rounded out the Lady Eagle scoring with two points.
The Lady Eagles were 35-of-67 (52.2 percent) from the field, 11-of-21 (52.4 percent) from three point range and 3-of-4 (75 percent) from the charity stripe. The Lady Eagles had 35 rebounds, 15 assists, 20 steals, five blocks and nine turnovers in the win.
Swatzel led Eastern with six rebounds, followed by Burdette with five. Keller, Rigsby and Hannah Barringer each added four rebounds, while Keller anchored the defense with three rejections. Burdette had a game-high six steals, followed by Parker with five. Pullins and Rigsby each had three steals, while Burdette led the team with five assists. Pullins, Parker and Hannah Bailey each added three assists for the Green and Gold.
“You have to come out and play with good intensity,” said John Burdette. “I thought they come out with their heads on, they shot the ball well and played good defense in the beginning. That’s always important to start out with.”
Emily Widdowson led the Lady Panthers with 11 points, followed by Lexie Gilliland with six and Katie Redding with five. Madison Freeman and Shannon Curry each added three points, while Cami Whitley and Cassie Wolfe had one point in the loss.
Clay shot 10-of-38 (26.3 percent) from the field, 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) from beyond the arc and 7-of-13 (53.8 percent) from the free throw line. The Lady Panthers had 23 rebounds, led by Gilliland with nine, and 24 turnovers in the loss.
Eastern will face Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division rival Waterford on Thursday in the Regional final at Jackson High School. The Lady Eagles have defeated WHS twice this season by an average of 30 points.
“Of course you know what they say, that third time is the toughest,” said John Burdette. “We just have to come out and play our game. We both know each other really well so I’m sure Jerry Close will come out and do something different. We just have to play well and we’ll see what happens at the end.”