Coming off a heartbreaking come-from-behind loss in their last game before the Christmas Holiday at Person, Eastern Alamance’s women’s basketball team was eager to get back on the court the night after Christmas for the opening round of the Holiday Hoopla Tournament inside Tal Jobe Gymnasium.
The Eagles opened the event with a game against Bartlett Yancey of the Mid-State 2A Conference and it was the outcome Tim Krotish and his team was hoping for, as EAHS cruised to a 66-14 victory. Eastern advanced to the semifinal round of its host tournament and a matchup with local rival Burlington Academy, who defeated Orange in the first round.
Eastern Alamance built a commanding 35-7 halftime lead over Bartlett Yancey behind excellent defense and transition scoring. As they’ve done against most of their opponents early on in the season, the Eagles consistently kept the Buccaneers out of prime scoring opportunities and kept getting high-percentage shooting chances and free throws. After dominating the Bucs 22-5 over the game’s opening eight minutes, Eastern outscored BY 13-2 in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, a Hali Watkins steal and layup gave Eastern a 30-point lead - 37-7 - in the opening 30 seconds. Following a nice drive and basket by Amiyah Evans, which gave EAHS a 39-7 lead at the 6:55 mark, Eastern scored five more unanswered points for a 46-7 lead. A drive and basket by Tashawna Garner made it a 40-point lead - 48-7 at the 3:00 mark of the third quarter. At that point, Eastern had outscored BY 13-0 over the quarter’s opening five minutes. A steal by Watkins and coast-to-coast layup made Eastern’s lead 50-7.
A free throw in the final 15 seconds of the quarter gave the Bucs their only point of the quarter, and the game went into the final period with EAHS leading, 50-8.
A group of Eagle reserves, including Garner, Ginia Lawson, Anabella Mize, Karsyn Johnson and Makayla VanDusen, got ample playing time down the stretch. Johnson grabbed an offensive board and scored at the 6:30 mark, making the count 54-8.
Watkins, who scored four points early on in the fourth quarter, then got a steal and passed ahead to Lawson to get her on the scoreboard, and the Eagles with a 58-8 lead. Then VanDusen got a chance to score on a transition bucket, giving EAHS a 60-8 lead with 4:57 left.
Bartlett Yancey got its first field goal of the second half with just under 2:30 to play in the game, which made the score 60-10. EA came right back down and got the ball ahead to Evans, who converted a layup while getting fouled for a 62-10 score.
BY scored twice more in the closing minutes, but the Eagles finished strong as well. A steal by Kyra Jones led to a pass to Evans, and then a pass back to Jones under the basket for a layup. Evans closed out the scoring for the Eagles with one last basket, giving the Eagles a 52-point win.
Watkins led the way for the Eagles with 20 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and four steals in the win over the Bucs, while Laila Anderson added 15 points and two assists. Evans added eight points, four rebounds, four assists, and four steals.
The victory over Bartlett Yancey improved Eastern’s overall record to 5-1, and advanced the Eagles to the semifinal round of its host tournament against The Burlington School Friday evening.