Eastern women's hoops falls to 4-1, slips away late lead at Person

Eastern Alamance sophomore Hali Watkins guards a Northeast Guilford ball handler during EAHS's home opener December 17 against the Rams. The Eagles overcame a 21-16 halftime deficit to pick up a solid 51-42 triumph over Northeast to improve to 4-0. Eastern had a golden opportunity to improve to 5-0 heading into the Christmas break, but the Eagles were unable to hold onto an 11-point fourth quarter lead in a disappointing 41-39 setback at Person County Friday night. The loss to the Rockets was Eastern's first of the year.

After getting off to a 3-0 start in non-conference games, Eastern Alamance’s women’s basketball team split a pair of contests this past week as they began Mid-State Conference play. EAHS came back from a halftime deficit for an impressive 51-42 win over Northeast Guilford in its conference home opener December 17, but then dropped a heartbreaking 41-39 game to Person County on the road Friday night after building a double-digit fourth quarter lead. 

In the Northeast Guilford game, the Eagles came out somewhat slowly, trailing the Rams 21-16 at halftime. But Tim Krotish’s squad came alive in the third quarter, playing active defense, forcing steals, and converting transition baskets to take control of the game. 

The Eagles tied the game on a Hali Watkins offensive rebound and basket while getting fouled, which tied the game at 21-21 barely a minute and a half into the third quarter. Watkins gave Eastern a 25-23 lead on a runner, and then Amiyah Evans drove to the basket and scored for a 27-23 EAHS advantage. Eastern continued building its lead on a nice pass from Watkins to Jordan Adams for a score, and then a steal and layup by Laila Anderson for a 32-25 lead. 

Anderson made another nice play shortly thereafter, scoring on a drive for a 34-27 Eastern lead. In all, the Eagles outscored Northeast Guilford 18-6 in the third quarter. 

Eastern quickly built its lead to ten points in the final period on a jumper by Evans, and a free throw by Anderson. Evans continued Eastern’s solid, unselfish play in the second half with a nice pass to Adams for a 39-29 Eagles lead at the 5:15 mark. After the Rams fought to get within 39-32, Watkins converted a lane runner to get the Eagles’ momentum back. 

Watkins found Adams for another score, and then Anderson forced a steal and made a beautiful step to elude a defender for a layup that stretched Eastern’s lead to 45-32, forcing a Northeast timeout at the 3:42 mark. EAHS built the lead as big as 15 points in the final minutes before Northeast got going and scored ten points as the seconds ticked off the clock. 

Eastern’s 51-42 triumph improved the Eagles to 4-0 and 1-0 in league play. Watkins led the way in the victory over Northeast with 11 points, while fellow sophomores Anderson and Evans added nine points and eight points, respectively. Ginia Lawson was a force on the boards against the Rams, picking up 11 rebounds, while Makenzy Tucker added seven rebounds. 

The Eagles traveled up to Roxboro Friday night to face Person in their second conference game. While EAHS had a golden opportunity to improve to 5-0 and 2-0 in league play, they dropped a heartbreaking two-point decision to the Rockets. 

Eastern built a 25-19 halftime lead, and increased it to 33-26 heading into the final period of play. The Eagles jumped out to a commanding 11-point lead at 37-26 following baskets by Lawson and Watkins. But the Rockets came firing back, scoring six straight points to pull within 37-32. The Eagles got a free throw from Adams to take a 38-32 lead, but Person continued to chip away, cutting the score to 39-38 with under a minute remaining. 

In a dramatic final sequence, the Rockets took a 40-39 lead with under half a minute to go, forcing Krotish to call a timeout with just 16.3 seconds to play. Eastern was unable to get a basket or draw a foul on its subsequent possession, and the Rockets were able to sneak away with the victory following one additional free throw. 

The loss to Person was Eastern’s first of the season, and drops the Eagles to 4-1 heading into the Christmas holiday break. Eastern will return to action at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 26 in the first round of the Holiday Hoopla Tournament at Eastern. The Eagles will host Bartlett Yancey. The Eagles will also play on Friday and Saturday at home in their host tournament.