Southern Pulls Away Late

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It’s been a long season for the Eastern Eagles, and if they want to extend their season with postseason success, they’re going to have to change something up.

In tonight’s match-up against the Southern Tornadoes, the Eastern Eagles couldn’t stop the Tornadoes on Southern’s senior night as they fell by a score of 54-44.

It was a defensive battle from the start as both teams played extremely well half-court defense. For the Eagles it was their constant communication and intensity that allowed them to limit Southern scorers. When it came to the Tornadoes, their use of the full court press and the in-your-face ball pressure they forced onto Eagle ball handlers allowed the Tornadoes to cause turnovers and capitalize on  fast break chances.

On the offensive side of the ball, Southern was able to take the lead by scoring in the paint. Out of the 54 points the Tornadoes put up tonight, 30  came from shots inside the paint.

Whether it was through a fast break or just running offensive game plans in the half court, Southern was able to get the ball down low and create high quality looks.

As the first half ended, both teams would head into the locker room in a tight match-up of 23-19.

As the teams came out and the second half began, both the Eagles and Tornadoes were still able to maintain the same high energy defense they had displayed in the first. While the third quarter progressed the emotion of the game escalated to its highest with neither team giving any open looks for their opponents.

Emotions were running so high that with 1:43 left in the third Eastern head coach Jeremy Hill received a technical foul over a debatable defensive play by a Southern player. The technical would add to the Tornadoes lead as they entered the third quarter ahead of the Eagles 37-27.

Going into the fourth, it was the same story as the first half; solid defense, Southern dominating the paint. The fourth quarter began the same exact way until Eastern forward Isaiah Fish would hit the game’s first three pointer with 6:05 left in the fourth.

However, despite the big shot from downtown by Fish, Southern would respond by hitting their first three pointer as forward Brayden Cunningham was able to field a pass from the top of the key and bury it.

While the Eagles tried to fight back and were able to eventually cut the Tornadoes lead to six, the Tornadoes were too much in the end. The X factor for Southern that pushed them over the edge and made a huge impact in the game was Senior guard Dylan Smith.

Playing his last home game on senior night, Smith was bound to go out on top as he finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds and three steals, leading the Tornadoes to victory.

As the season progresses and finally begins to head into the postseason, make sure to keep up with the Eastern Eagles as they look to rebound in their upcoming match up against the Meigs Marauders this Saturday. If the Eagles are going to find any postseason success, they’re going to have to defend the paint and cut down on the turnovers.

Making mental mistakes and giving opponents extra scoring opportunities is something Eastern can’t afford if they want to make any noise this postseason. We’ll see if they can make the adjustments and prove they have what it takes to be this year’s Cinderella at the big dance.