Eastside (14-5, 8-0) relied on a big halftime lead to survive the final two quarters of a 64-49 victory at Thomas Walker (12-5, 6-2).
The Lady Spartans clinched at least a share of the regular- season district championship. They can win the Cumberland outright and clinch the district’s automatic bid to the Region 1D tournament with a victory over Rye Cove on Friday.
EARLY CUSHION, LATE SLUMP
Eastside led 21-13 after the first quarter and 39-22 at halftime.
“Coming down here, it’s always a tough place to play,” said Eastside coach Barry Ruff. “We knew if we could get it done tonight, we had a two-game cushion with two to go. We felt pretty good about that but, at the same time, we’ve got to finish it off.”
Then came the second-half slump. Ruff summed up his team’s play in two sentences.
“Great second quarter. Terrible third quarter,” the coach said. “Both teams started the third quarter with five turnovers apiece. We had two buckets in the whole quarter. That’s just our youth showing. That’s the point when you have a 17-point lead and you get five turnovers in a row, you need to have a 22-point, 23-point lead.”
Playing against a determined Thomas Walker squad also made the third quarter tougher.
“They’re much improved from last year,” Ruff said of the Lady Pioneers. “We knew we were going to have to play hard and they played us to the buzzer. We may see them again in the district tournament and we’re going to have to be ready for that because they’re a great team and they’re well coached.”
BY THE BOOK
Chloe Powers led Eastside in scoring with 16 points, Kaylee Yates had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Anna Whited finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Lakin Burke led Thomas Walker with 16 points and Abby Bullins had 10.
EASTSIDE BOYS KEEP ROLLING
In the boys’ game, Eastside (17-3, 7-1) jumped out to a 22-4 first-quarter lead and continued to roll in a 101-32 rout that maintained its share of the Cumberland lead.
The Spartans and J.I. Burton are tied for first place in the loss column. Eastside leads Burton by a game in the win column because Burton’s game with Castlewood scheduled for Tuesday was postponed until Monday.
Connor Blevins led Eastside with 22 points and Ethan Powers had 19. The Spartans also got 12 from Chris Swann and 10 from Nick Livingston.
Caleb Yeary and Logan Ely had 12 points apiece to lead Thomas Walker (6-12, 4-4).