Eastern Alamance’s men’s basketball team continued its winning ways Monday evening with an 88-44 victory over visiting Graham inside Tal Jobe Gymnasium. The victory gave EAHS four wins in a row after an 0-7 start, and provided the team even more momentum heading into an important Mid-State Conference battle Friday evening on the road in Elon against Western Alamance.
The matchup with Graham was initially supposed to be in early December, but the game was forced to be moved to January as the Eagles were still in the NCHSAA 3A state playoffs at the time. Monday’s tilt with the Red Devils was men’s only, as the Eastern women’s team played and defeated Graham early on.
The temporary postponement of the men’s game nullified a chance for the Eagles to get an early win and avoid what turned into a stunning 7-game losing streak to start the season. But the newly-positioned scheduling allowed the Eagles to turn the game into another midseason confidence builder.
The Eagles got off to a flying start against the visiting Red Devils, building a commanding 31-13 lead after just one quarter of play with a flurry of transition baskets. EAHS continued to sruge, building a 20-point lead - 38-18 - midway through the second quarter. EAHS quickly ran the lead up to 25 -points - 44-19 - and eventually 47-22 at halftime following a buzzer-beating putback by sophomore Kasen McCawley.
Nick Blackwell, who has been one of Eastern’s catalysts through the early part of the season, got hot early on in the second half, making three shows in the row over the first 90 seconds of the third quarter, as Eastern built its lead to 30 points - 55-25. Blackwell then buried a 3-pointer at the 5:00 mark of the period to keep EAHS’s lead at 30 points, 58-28.
Two more easy baskets in the paint by Blackwell gave him 13 points over the first four minutes of the second half, at which time EAHS head coach Jay McPherson made several substitutions with a commanding 60-31 cushion. A subsequent 3-point play on a layup and foul by Evan Mann made the score 65-33 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter. EAHS extended the advantage to 34 points - 67-33 - heading into the fourth period.
The Eagles maintained their substantial lead as the clock wound down, keeping the Red Devils at bay behind defense, transition play, and good passing. A pass from Lebron Reels to McCawley gave the Eagles their biggest lead of the night - 77-41 - with just under four minutes to go. Reels then converted a layup at the 3:30 mark for a 40-point EAHS lead - 81-41. Reels added a rebound putback at the 2:20 mark, as Eastern continued to pull away, 86-43.
As a running clock ticked off the closing seconds, Ja’Lil Settles added a bucket in the paint for the Eagles for their final points in the 88-44 victory. Eastern remains 2-3 in Mid-State Conference play, but improved to 4-7 overall with the victory over Graham.
Four Eagles were in double figures in the win over Graham, with Blackwell leading the way with 22 points. Freshman guard Alik Lewis added 15 points, mostly during Eastern’s first half explosion, while forwards Darius Kane and Lebron Reels both tallied 12 points each.
The Eagles will return to action Thursday night with another non-conference home game in Mebane against local rival Southern Alamance. Tipoff of the men’s varsity game is scheduled for 6:00 p.m..