Strong Second Half Pushes Eastern Past Waterford

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“The Nest” was filled to the brim in Reedsville on Thursday night as Eastern welcomed Waterford in a game instrumental to the TVC-Hocking crown.

The Eagles put together a dominant final three quarters on their way to a 65-36 victory.

Eastern head coach John Burdette said, “I think the best thing for the girls is to come out and play. They know what is at stake. They’ve battled with them for the last four years.”

The game was physical from the opening whistle, with Eagles and Wildcats alike sprawled all over the hardwood for the better part of the evening.

Eastern came out a bit tentative in the noisy, tense environment as Waterford came out firing in a physical, hard-fought first period.

Jenna Burdette shot out of the gate early on, scoring 8 of her 21 points in the first period on a series of hard drives to the bucket. Waterford’s Danni Drayer did her best to keep the Wildcats in the game, hitting several 3-pointers early. She finished with 21 points, but turned the ball over 13 times. At the end of the first, the Eagles led 12-11.  

Both teams traded baskets within the first few minutes of the second quarter, with the Wildcats clamping down on Burdette. The senior point guard in turn got her teammates more involved in the game, dishing out seven assists.

It was a 16-15 Waterford lead before the Eagles found themselves in a groove and began hitting shots. Eastern exploded for 17 points in the final minutes of the second quarter with Jordan Parker leading the charge to go up 32-19 at the half. Parker hit two from long range and hit another layup in the quarter.

Eastern succeeded in taking the ball from the Wildcats, forcing 12 turnovers in the first half.  

The turnovers did not slow in the second half, as the Eagles did not miss a beat while playing all three of their freshman, all of whom which picked up valuable minutes.

Hard-nosed defense from the Eagles turned into hurried shots and a stagnant offense for Waterford in the final two periods. The Eagles scored the first eight points of the second half and never looked back. Eastern maintained a 20+ and near 30-point advantage for much of the fourth quarter, all the while forcing 18 more turnovers in the second half.

Freshman Laura Pullins, who contributed vital minutes off the bench, also added 11 points. Parker finished the game with 15. The two were vital in sending the host crowd home content.

Coach Burdette said, “Jordan, she’s a dead-spot shooter. She can create some offense. Laura is getting a lot better at attacking the basket, and not being nervous with the ball.”

Contributions from numerous players have proved to be something the Eagles can bank on nightly.

“They play so unselfishly as far as a team, and they always have since they were little” said Burdette. “That’s the biggest part about getting each other involved, that’s the fun part in watching the team.”

Eastern gets a few days off and then welcomes South Gallia to the Nest. The matchup is set for Monday, Jan. 13, at 7:30 p.m.