Eastern hosts Harnett Central Tuesday night in state playoff opener

The Eastern Alamance women’s basketball team is advancing to the NCHSAA 3A state playoffs after winning the Mid-State Conference regular season championship with a perfect 11-0 record. Laila Anderson (pictured) and the Eagles are the No. 3 seed in the East Region, and will host Harnett Central at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night inside Tal Jobe Gymnasium. Anderson led the Eagles during the regular season with a scoring average of 19 points per game, as well as more than four steals per contest. 

The Eastern Alamance women’s basketball team is advancing to the NCHSAA 3A state playoffs after winning the Mid-State Conference regular season championship with a perfect 11-0 record. Although the Eagles did not play three scheduled games in mid-winter due to COVID-19 protocols, their crucial double-overtime victory at Northern Guilford in early January proved to make the difference as the Eagles bested the Nighthawks by that single game. 

EAHS concluded the regular season last week with a convincing 60-38 victory over McMichael on the road in the regular season finale the evening of February 17. Although the Phoenix hung tough early on with the Eagles, taking a 10-10 score into the second quarter, Eastern broke the game open with a 21-7 run in the second quarter, and taking a 31-17 advantage into the locker rooms for halftime. 

Eastern continued its dominant play in the third quarter, outscoring McMichael 20-7 to take a commanding 51-24 lead into the fourth quarter. The Phoenix played a little tougher in the final period, but the Eagles took a 22-point victory to claim the Mid-State Conference regular season title, and earn one of the league’s two state playoff berths. 

The Eagles, the No. 3 seed in the East Region, will take on Harnett Central, the No. 14 seed, at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday night inside the friendly confines of Tal Jobe Gymnasium. Northern Guilford also advances to the NCHSAA state playoffs as the No. 15 seed, and will face No. 2 seed D.H. Conley Tuesday evening on the road. Harnett Central comes to Mebane with an overall record of 9-2, as the second seed from the Tri-County 6 3A Conference. They lost once to conference champ Union Pines, but also defeated Union Pines in mid-February on the road. 

Eastern averaged an impressive 62.1 points per game during the regular season, with junior point guard Laila Anderson leading the way with an average of 19 points per game. Fellow junior Hali Watkins also averaged in double figures with an average of 14.5 points per outing. Another junior, Amiyah Evans, averaged 8.9 points per contest, while fellow eleventh grader Kyra Jones averaged 6.1 points per game. 

Watkins led the way on the boards for the Eagles with an average of 8.2 rebounds per game, while Evans led the way with 3.2 assists per outing. Anderson proved her worth on the defensive end of the floor with 4.3 steals per game, while Evans averaged 3.6 steals an outing. Eastern’s defense was a clear catalyst in the team’s undefeated regular season, as the Eagles as a team forced an impressive 17.3 steals per game, while committed just 12.5 turnovers themselves. The Eagles shot 38 percent from the floor as a team, with four players averaging 46 percent or better from the floor, and shot 28 percent from 3-point range.