Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WAVERLY — If you fail to score throughout an entire quarter, the best-case scenario is holding your opponent to a single point.
That’s exactly what happened to Eastern Brown on Thursday.
But despite their inability to score in the second, the Warriors (23-1) managed to regroup, rebound from the lull and hand Alexander a 46-29 loss in a Division III district semifinal.
“We were kind of in a funk but we always have people step up,” freshman Rylee Leonard said. “We knew [Alexander’s] personnel, we really knew what we were doing defensively and that helped us a lot.”
It just so happens that Leonard was the one who stepped up in the second half.
After she failed to score in either of the first two quarters, she ended the night with a game-high 18 points — 15 of which came in the fourth quarter alone as she went 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
Her first score was a buzzer-beating 3 at the end of the third quarter. Seeing the ball go in the net one time was all she needed to help her team pound down a victory.
“Once I hit that 3, I kind of got some motivation about [scoring],” Leonard said. “I just kept moving and the game came to me.”
While Leonard’s performance carried the team late, senior Camryn Pickerill carried that torch early.
The Warriors’ captain scored eight of the team’s first 13 points, paving the way to a 13-6 lead after the first quarter before Eastern Brown took a 13-7 edge into halftime.
Out of the break, the Warriors hit the glass hard and put themselves in a better position to score.
Mackenzie Gloff scored to make it a 15-7 ballgame with 7:40 left in the third before scoring again with 5:01 remaining, making it 19-11. At the 2:24 mark, Pickerill nailed a triple for a 22-15 score before Leonard gave the Warriors a 28-18 edge with the 3 at the buzzer.
“Coach [Kevin] Pickerill always talks about the keys to success,” Eastern’s Caitlyn Wills said. “He usually lists four or five, and number one tonight was hitting the glass and getting rebounds. That’s super important because it gives us extra offensive chances.”
Leonard’s second trey made it 31-21 with 6:13 left in regulation before she scored 12 of the team’s next 15 points to seal the deal.
After the freshman’s 18 points, Pickerill added 12 points, five rebounds and six assists to the mix. Gloff finished with five points and 12 rebounds, Wills had two points and six boards, and Emma Brown also helped out with four points and three rebounds.
The Warriors’ next task is winning a Division III district championship, which they’ll have the chance to do against Oak Hill at noon, Feb. 29 at Waverly’s Downtown Gym.
A win would give Eastern Brown its 13th district crown in program history.
“I think it’s staying focused in practice,” Wills said when asked about what it takes to win a district title. “We all come as one and work as a team and a family. If someone falls down, we pick them up. It’s just staying positive and and keeping our focus.”
Alexander: 6-1-11-11 — 29
Eastern Brown: 13-0-15-8 — 46
Alexander: 9-39 FG, 8-11 FT, 3-15 3 pt., 20 rebounds (Grinstead 6), 17 turnovers, 5 assists (Scurlock 2). Scoring: Grinstead 13, Meeks 7, Mace 5, Meadows 2, Scurlock 2.
Eastern Brown: 14-39 FG, 12-16 FT, 6-13 3 pt., 31 rebounds (Gloff 12), 17 turnovers, 11 assists (Pickerill 6). Scoring: Leonard 18, Pickerill 12, Gloff 5, Brown 4, Frost 3, Prine 2, Wills 2.