A third quarter surge put the Indians in position for a comeback but the Eagles would prevail with a 22-point final quarter. Eastern defeated Western 73-49 for the win at Waverly High School.
“As a team, through three quarters, we were flat. We were dead-legged,” Eastern coach P.J. Fitch said. “Our pressure defense is normally a lot better... (There is) some stuff we have to work on in practice. But overall, you can’t complain because we got out of here with a win.”
The Eagles were coming off a loss to Piketon in round one of the tournament, Eastern’s only fault thus far.
“Western is very scrappy. They play hard and are a well coached team,” Fitch said. “We are 4-1 now. (I’m) not happy with the loss against Piketon, but (I’m) happy that we won the consolation game.”
In the first half, Western struggled to keep up with the run-and-shoot style of their opponent. The Indians’ slow start allowed Eastern a 34-19 halftime lead.
“We wanted to the boys to attack and do what we had worked on,” Western coach Dave Kight said. “It’s my fault. I have to get us out of the gate faster... I’ll take responsibility for that.”
Eastern’s Doug McVey, a 6-foot-1 senior, lead the charge in the first half on both ends. McVey racked up 12 of his 15 points in the first two quarters while dealing with the night’s toughest defensive assignment in Western’s Stefan Stojanovic.
“Doug did an outstanding job guarding Evan Legg, one of the area’s premier guards, (on Monday night against Piketon) and tonight he did an outstanding job guarding Stojanovic,” Fitch said. “(McVey) held him to one point.”
The defensive focus of the Eagles came as no surprise to their cross-county rivals. Both teams are well acquainted as they are sure to meet up twice a year for SOC I play.
“Coach Fitch does a very good job with Eastern and being the rivals we are, he knows our personal as well as we know his,” Kight said. “I knew that he was going to pressure Stefan and try to take him out of the game... They did a really good job on him tonight.”
Although the Indians never got in a flow offensively through two quarters, they turned things around to start the second half. Western center Cody Cooper and point guard Sean Flint took over in the third by combining for 21 of the team’s 23 points.
Western cut the 15-point halftime deficit to just nine points as the teams entered the final quarter 51-42.
“To start the third quarter we just relaxed and played. We got the ball in the post... and things went well from there in the third quarter,” Kight said. “Cody has been in a little bit of a funk... We got to feed the horse. He works his butt off in there on the block and getting rebounds. We are better a team if we go through him, which we showed in the third quarter tonight.”
As well as Western performed in the third, Eastern responded with a more impressive fourth quarter. Kevin Montgomery and Kole Wheeler helped the Eagles outscore Western 22-7 in the final period to finish strong in the victory.
Montgomery recorded a game-high 19 points and 12 rebounds while Wheeler also had a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.
McVey, Jordan Thornsberry and Derek Lawhorn each had four steals in the win. However, the man-to-man defense for Eastern was not one of the night’s highlights for Fitch’s Eagles.
“Our staple is usually our pressure defense and it was a non-factor in this game,” Fitch said. “We feel very fortunate to win, especially by whatever margin it ended up.”
Eastern continues SOC I play when the Eagles go to New Boston on Tuesday. Western will travel to Green for a league contest on Tuesday as well.
“In a loss, I think this is a springboard for us going into the second half of our league season,” Kight said. “We have played some pretty good competition so far this year... The second half (of tonight’s game) is a good springboard for our kids as we enter 2010.”
ALI KEATON can be reached at email@example.com
Western 7 12 23 7 — 49
Eastern 15 19 17 22 — 73
Western — Cooper 7 0 14, Satterfield 1 0 2, Stojanovic 0 1 1, Bakenhaster 3 1 7, Flint 6 6 18, Park 2 0 4, Guilkey 1 0 3. Totals 20 8 49.
Eastern — Lands 2 1 5, Montgomery 7 5 19, McVey 5 3 15, Wheeler 5 4 14, Lykins 1 0 2, Selbee 0 2 2, Lawhorn 2 0 5, Thornsberry 4 1 9, Hawks 1 0 2. Totals 27 16 73.
3-pointers — Western 1 (Guilkey); Eastern 3 (McVey 2, Lawhorn)
Records — Western 1-5 (1-2); Eastern 4-1 (3-0)