ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — A dozen straight must feel great.
The second-seeded Eastern girls basketball team claimed its 12th straight sectional title, defeating seventh-seeded Miller by a 65-36 final, on Saturday afternoon inside Meigs High School’s Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium.
The opening period featured three lead changes, with the Lady Eagles (19-3) ending the period with a 6-0 run and a 13-9 advantage. Miller (11-13) missed just one field goal try in the opening quarter, but committed 11 turnovers and never led after the first period.
Eastern’s lead was cut to one point within the opening minute of the second stanza, but the Lady Falcons never pulled that close again. The Lady Eagles outscored Miller by a 22-to-15 clip in the second quarter, making the EHS lead 35-26 at halftime.
The Lady Falcons scored the first four points of the second half, cutting Eastern’s advantage to five points. However, the Lady Eagles ended the third quarter with an 18-to-2 run and a 50-32 lead.
EHS finished strong, outscoring the Lady Falcons by a 15-to-4 clip over the final eight minutes to seal the 65-36 win and the spot in the district tournament.
“I have to give credit to Miller, you want to talk about a team that’s improved,” EHS head coach Jacob Parker said. “They shot the lights out in the first half, we made some adjustments and played our game a little bit more. I think the nerves got settled down and we came away with the victory.”
For the game, Eastern claimed a 39-to-28 rebounding advantage, including 19-to-10 on the offensive glass. Miller committed 34 turnovers in the game, while EHS gave the ball away 18 times. The Lady Eagles also claimed advantages in assists (16-to-10), steals (15-to-8) and blocked shots (3-to-2).
The Lady Eagles shot 22-of-63 (34.9 percent) from the field, including 5-of-25 (20 percent) from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Miller shot 14-of-46 (30.4 percent) from the field, including 4-of-13 (30.8 percent) from three-point range. All nine of the game’s three-point field goals came in the first half.
From the free throw line, Eastern shot 16-of-26 (61.5 percent) and Miller shot 4-of-8 (50 percent).
“I’m a firm believer that defense wins games and if you play good defense, it leads to offense,” Coach Parker said. “Early on, we missed some easy shots that our defense created. In the end, we made the adjustments that we needed to and came away with the win.”
The EHS offense was led by senior Laura Pullins with 22 points, to go with eight rebounds. Eastern sophomore Jess Parker scored 18 points, while fellow sophomore Elizabeth Collins posted a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Becca Pullins scored four points for the Green, White and Gold, while Alyson Bailey and Kelsey Casto both scored three points. Bailey marked a game-best five assists to go with eight rebounds, while Laura Pullins led the Eastern defense with six steals and two blocked shots.
MHS freshman Ashley Spencer led the charge for the Lady Falcons with 16 points, all of which came before halftime. Olivia Houk and Haille Joseph both scored eight points, to go with five and six rebounds respectively. Houk — who led the Miller defense with two steals and two rejections — also marked a team-high three assists.
Miller’s scoring was rounded out by Askya McFann and Chloe Rine with two points apiece. Playing in her final game for the Lady Falcons was Miller’s lone senior Sierra Bannik.
This marks the 25th sectional title for the Eastern girls basketball program.
Eastern also defeated the Lady Falcons in both regular season meetings. The Lady Eagles claimed a 56-36 victory at MHS on December 8, and a 62-27 win at ‘The Nest’ on January 21.
The Lady Eagles will New Boston Glenwood on Thursday, in the district semifinal at Jackson High School.
“We have to keep getting better, keep focusing on the little things and doing the little things right,” Coach Parker said. “We’ll watch a little bit of film, tighten a few things up and go from there.”
The third-seeded Lady Tigers defeated sixth-seeded Paint Valley by a 73-68 clip, on Saturday at Northwest High School.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.