TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — The Eastern girls basketball team opened Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division play with a bang, as the Lady Eagles defeated Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division guest Federal Hocking by a 61-36 final margin, on Wednesday night in Meigs County.
The Lady Eagles (3-0, 1-0 TVC Hocking) claimed the game’s first points with a three-pointer, but it was their only field goal in the first five minutes, as Federal Hocking (1-3, 0-1) took a 4-3 lead. EHS regained the lead on an and-1 layup at the 2:38 mark of the first, and followed it up with a trifecta to push the lead to 9-4.
The Lady Lancers sank their first three-pointer of the game to cut the lead to 9-7 with 1:31 left in the period, but EHS countered with its third triple of the first and led 12-7.
Federal Hocking scored in the opening minute of the second period — cutting the deficit to 12-9 — but the Lady Lancers didn’t score again for over four minutes. In that time, Eastern built its lead up to 22-9, but FHHS ended the cold-spell with a three-pointer. Eastern ended the half with a 6-0 run and headed to the locker room with a 28-12 lead.
In the first five minutes of the second half, Eastern outscored its guest 12-to-8, increasing the lead to 42-20. FHHS answered with a 7-1 run, but the Lady Eagles scored the final four points of the third and led 47-27 with eight minutes to go.
The Lady Lancers were never closer than 20 in the fourth period, as Eastern ended the game with a 14-to-9 run, capping off the 61-36 victory.
“I’m always happy in victory, but I feel there were a lot of opportunities that we let go,” first-year Eastern head coach Jacob Parker said. “We came out flat in the first half, in my opinion, but the girls responded well at halftime. We came out and looked more like the team that we needed to look like.”
For the game, Eastern shot 21-of-50 (42 percent) from the field, including just 6-of-22 (27.3 percent) from beyond the arc. The Lady Eagles made 13-of-18 (72.2 percent) free throw attempts, while Federal Hocking was 8-of-16 (50 percent) from the stripe. FHHS was 12-of-44 (27.3 percent) from the field, including 4-of-18 (22.2 percent) from three-point range.
Eastern held a 33-to-24 advantage on the glass, including a 14-to-7 edge in offensive rebounds.
“That was a crucial part for us that we talked about before the game,” Coach Parker said of his team’s rebounding. “I flat-out told the girls that I would be very upset if we did not control the boards. We are a physically bigger team, but at times I felt like Federal Hocking was actually beating us on the boards. In the end, we won the boards and I’m very pleased with that.”
The Lady Eagles also held a 17-to-8 advantage in assists and a 10-6 advantage in steals. Eastern committed 14 turnovers in the win, while FHHS gave the ball away 18 times.
“When the running game is there and it’s working, it’s nice to see,” Coach Parker said. “There are times when we have to slow the game down, we have to play the game at a slower pace and work the basketball to get good looks at the basket. That’s a learning curve, but I’m confident that we’ll learn from it and go on.”
EHS senior Laura Pullins led the way for the victors with a double-double effort of 25 points and 12 rebounds, both of which were game-highs. Becca Pullins scored 13 points off of the bench for the Lady Eagles, while Hannah Bailey and Madison Williams each scored six points. Jess Parker and Elizabeth Collins both scored four points, Alyson Bailey added two, while Kelsey Casto chipped in with one point.
Parker and Williams both finished with team-highs of four assists and three steals, with Parker — Eastern’s 5-foot, 4-inch sophomore point guard — recording seven rebounds and the game’s lone blocked shot.
Destiny Tabler led the Lady Lancers with 13 points and five rebounds.
Federal Hocking and Eastern will meet again on January 19, in Stewart.
After visiting Miller on Thursday, the Lady Eagles will host Jackson in a non-league tilt on Saturday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.