Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
LUCASVILLE — Six in a row and it still never gets old.
Eastern Brown’s girls know their way around a net, both when aiming for it and when cutting it down.
With a decisive 52-34 victory over Federal Hocking on Saturday at Valley, the Warriors (22-1) got the chance to sharpen both of those skills, seizing their sixth consecutive sectional title in the process.
“We stuck with the game plan. Coach [Kevin Pickerill] told us that we had to have patience and had to trust the system,” senior Juanita Frost said. “I think as soon as Rylee [Leonard] gets on a run, or Cam [Pickerill], or Mackenzie [Gloff], as soon as one thing happens, it leads to another and it just starts a fire. We work a lot on momentum and we use it to get out in transition.”
Frost touched on something that absolutely took place … the Warriors caught fire.
For the first four minutes, Federal Hocking was in the game. But with 4:01 left in the quarter, Pickerill hit her second 3 of the game to break an 8-8 tie. From there, Caitlyn Wills hit a jumper, Leonard nailed a triple and then scored again off a steal on the defensive end.
Before the Lancers could blink, they were down 19-9. The Warriors used that momentum to take a 26-11 lead into the second quarter, fully in control.
“That’s what Eastern basketball is about,” Frost said. “It’s about our pressure and playing hard-nosed defense. We always key on defense a lot. Our offense comes from our defense. We get out, we get lay-ups.”
Throughout the rest of the game, Eastern insured its double-digit lead. At halftime, the Warriors led 35-18 and took a 45-26 advantage into the fourth, where they shifted into cruise control.
Pickerill led Eastern Brown statistically with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. Leonard followed with 13 points, Frost finished with seven points, and Mackenzie Gloff added five points and 10 rebounds.
“Six in a row is something to be super proud of,” Pickerill said. “Not everybody gets to cut down a net. So having the opportunity to cut down a sectional title net each year and then being able to advance is something that we really focus on. But we have to get even better.”
The Warriors advance to play Alexander, a 58-45 winner over Coal Grove on Saturday, at 6:15 p.m., Thursday at Waverly’s Downtown Gym in a Division III district semifinal.
Last season, Eastern saw its year end with a 50-39 loss to Wheelersburg in a district final.
The goal, of course, is to get back to that stage and then advance.
“Playing in [Waverly’s] downtown gym is something that is like a hype in itself,” Pickerill said. “We usually bring big crowds but you can’t let the hype get to you. You have to stay focused on the floor. It’s about playing in the minute and not looking ahead or behind. As long as we play our game and execute our game plan, we won’t have any trouble succeeding.”
Federal Hocking: 11-7-8-8 — 34
Eastern Brown: 26-9-10-7 — 52
Federal Hocking: 13-38 FG, 2-6 FT, 6-25 3 pt., 28 rebounds (E. Beha 6, Tolson 6), 19 turnovers, 6 assists (Smith 2, Tabler 2). Scoring: Tolson 16, Tabler 6, E. Beha 4, Smith 3, Tate 2, L. Beha 2, Richards 1.
Eastern Brown: 16-43 FG, 13-23 FT, 7-17 3 pt., 27 rebounds (Gloff 10), 14 turnovers, 11 assists (Pickerill 4). Scoring: Pickerill 14, Leonard 13, Frost 7, Gloff 5, Wills 5, Prine 3, Minnix 3, Brown 2.