WAVERLY – The Western Indians outlasted the Eastern Eagles 59-53 in the opening game of the Pike County Holiday Classic Thursday evening in Waverly.
The win takes the Indians to 5-2 on the season. The loss drops the Eagles to 5-2 on the year.
The Indians were led by Tanner Perdue with a game high 22 points. Lane Brewster added 13 points the cause. The Eagles had a trio of players in double figures. Michael Miller led the way with 12 points. Ethan Leist tallied an 11in the point column and Cody Weaver added 10 points.
“I thought their (Western) kids came out and shot the ball extremely well,” Eastern Head Coach Tom Barrick said. “I thought we guarded well, but they made some tough shots and that’s a credit to them.”
Western built a comfortable lead in the second quarter outscoring the Eagles 12-4 over the last five minutes of the first half. In the third quarter, Western lead had swelled to 13, 36-23, and prompted Coach Barrick to call a timeout with 3:12 left on the third quarter clock.
Whatever Coach Barrick said in the timeout huddle seemed to be working as the Eagles’ offense started to click and had the lead to down to seven, 38-31, with 24 seconds left in the stanza. But Eastern used a turnover and some fine ball movement to shave the lead to three heading into the final eight minutes.
Eastern kept applying pressure to the Indians’ offense and converting on their own offensive end of the floor. When Clay Martin drained a triple with 5:40 to play it gave the Eagles their first lead, since it was 2-0 early in the first quarter, and forced Western to take a timeout.
“You know with as well as Eastern is coached and as disciplined as their kids no lead is going to be safe,” Western Head Coach Kyle Miller said. “Our lead evaporated pretty quick. We got on the passive side of things. They were the aggressors and it showed.”
The two teams battled and tried to create separation, but the game was knotted at 49 with 2:50 remaining in the fourth quarter. Tanner Perdue stepped to the line and gave the Indians a two-point lead with 1:00 to go and repeated the performance with 40 seconds to go to give Western a, 57-53, lead. Perdue added two more free throws, going 8-for-8 in the final stanza, to advance the Indians to the Championship Game.
“That’s huge!” Miller said. “We ask Tanner (Perdue) to do a lot of us different thigs for us. He has to be our primary ball-handler, our facilitator, he’s got be a scores and he has to be the one who closes the game a lot of times.”
Eastern will play in the consolation game against Piketon Friday at 6 p.m. Western will face, the host team, Waverly in the Championship Game at approximately 7:45 p.m.