Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
PEEBLES — Eastern Brown never had to resort to its “Plan B” Tuesday night.
Instead, the Warriors executed their original game plan to perfection … which was, of course, to key on Peebles’ Jacey Justice.
“When you have a prolific scorer like [Justice], a lot of coaches do some different things,” Eastern coach Kevin Pickerill said. “Some let her get her points and stop the other four players. I’ve always taken it as a challenge as a defensive-minded coach. We want to go after the best and work off that. For three and a half quarters, for sure, I thought we really did a great job on Jacey.”
Justice was constantly hounded by multiple defenders and the Indians were forced to look elsewhere for scoring opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Warriors turned defense into offense and cashed in with points in transition.
The result was a 60-41 win in a key matchup in Southern Hills Athletic Conference action.
“I thought our defense stepped up tonight,” Pickerill said. “I still think we can grow defensively and rebounding has to be key for us. That’s still not where we want it to be, and I feel like our half-court offense has to get better. We’re really good in transition but we need to get better in the half-court.”
You can’t get much better than how Rylee Leonard played Monday.
The freshman played like a seasoned veteran, pacing the Warriors’ offense all night long. She led the team with 16 points, distributed the basketball well, and disrupted passing lanes on the defensive end.
“Every night, Rylee makes everybody around her better,” Pickerill said. “She’s very assertive and we want her to be aggressive. She’s played a lot of basketball and she’s got great court vision, understanding where the ball needs to go. She’s got stuff you don’t find in everyday freshmen. She can hit the 3, she can hit the 15-footer and she get to the rack.”
After a first quarter that saw four lead changes and 16 combined turnovers, Eastern held an 11-6 lead.
In the second, Mackenzie Gloff made it a 13-8 game with a putback before Camryn Pickerill hit a 3 to later make it 20-14. The Indians (5-1) then went on a 5-0 burst as Justice hit a 3 with 2:09 left to cut the lead to 20-19.
However, that’s when the wheels started to fall off for Peebles.
Emma Prine, who played extremely well all night long, made it a 24-19 game with 1:28 to go. Then, after Leonard hit a bucket and drew a foul, making it 27-19, Prine dialed long distance again at the buzzer, capping a 10-0 half-ending run.
That momentum carried into the third quarter.
Gloff started the second half with a bucket at the 7:44 mark, which set the tone the rest of the way. Heading to the fourth, the Warriors had a 45-22 lead and switched into cruise control from there.
“The big plan for us was to shut down Jacey,” Camryn Pickerill said. “We were trying to speed them up and hoped that it would get to them in the third and fourth quarter. It showed because in the third quarter, they were a lot slower than us and we got a lot of open lay-ups. We’ve got our work cut out for us this season but we definitely have a high ceiling.”
Following Leonard’s 16-point outing was Gloff, who totaled 13 points and six rebounds. Emma Prine added 12 points and seven boards, and Camryn Pickerill finished with seven points and three rebounds.
Justice led the way for Peebles with a game-high 21 points, 16 of which came in the second half, and added six rebounds. Lilly Gray also helped out, scoring 10 points and grabbing five boards.
Eastern is back in action Wednesday at Whiteoak before traveling to Fairfield on Thursday. Then, on Saturday, the Warriors will take on Minford at the University of Rio Grande. The Indians will try and bounce back on Dec. 27 against Manchester at North Adams High School.
“I feel like Fairfield has five players that can score from anywhere at all times,” Pickerill said. “They’re a young team and we feel like we can use our pressure and intensity to get after them a little bit. Then Minford, we don’t know a whole lot about. But I’ve coached against [Minford coach] Shane [Davis] and I know some of their players. So we’ll make adjustments on the fly. It’s a great challenge for us and a good way to go out on Christmas break.”
Eastern: 11-19-15-15 — 60
Peebles: 6-13-3-19 — 41
Eastern: 25-63 FG, 6-10 FT, 4-19 3pt., 31 rebounds (Prine 7), 18 turnovers, 10 assists (Dotson 3). Scoring: Leonard 16, Gloff 13, Prine 12, Brown 8, Pickerill 7, Wills 4.
Peebles: 13-38 FG, 12-19 FT, 3-7 3pt., 24 rebounds (Justice 6), 24 turnovers, 3 assists (Brown 2). Scoring: Justice 21, Gray 10, Moore 4, Arey 4, Beekman 2.