By MacKenzie Bates - Sports Editor
Jan. 1, 2014 — Everything went East Carter’s way Saturday night against Russell.
The Lady Raiders hit shots; they applied heavy defensive pressure and rebounded the ball as they defeated the Lady Devils 63-22 in the Mr. Micro Computers Ohio River Classic Championship.
“When kids go out there and play with the energy and aggressiveness like they did tonight, we have a chance to be pretty special,” Lady Raiders coach Hager Easterling said. “We attacked their zone and got in gaps and made the extra pass. It was a big win for us.”
Junior Megan Stickler scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and freshman Haley Hall added 12 for East Carter (12-1).
Russell (9-3) started the game on a Lexi Berry three but Stickler would score seven straight points to give the Lady Raiders the lead for good.
From there, the Raider defense took over as Russell turned the ball over 11 times in their 15 possessions in the opening period as East Carter took a 23-4 lead.
“We were rotating and pressuring the ball,” Easterling said. “I don’t think they really got a good shot off in the first quarter. If we got back and set, they didn’t get a good look at it. I’m proud of my kids for the way they played on both side of the ball.”
On a night where the Lady Devils shoot 7-of-29 and turned the ball over 25 times, Coach Mandy Layne admitted there wasn’t a lot of positives to take after this loss.
“Their pressure got us out of sync and we were rushing and we panicked,” Layne said. “We had some very uncharacteristic turnovers and we just continued to get frustrated and we weren’t running the things we needed to run in order to take care of the basketball.”
Maggie Jachimczuk had six points to pace Russell.
The lead increased to 35 in the third quarter to signal the running clock for the rest of the game. The Lady Raiders shot 51 percent (24-of-47) and outrebounded Russell 27-22, including an 11-7 advantage on the offensive boards.
But even after the stellar performance against Russell and Lawrence County in the tournament, Easterling has a feeling his team can take it to another level.
“We can play a whole lot better,” Easterling said. “I know everyone calls that ‘coach speak’ but I really feel like we can. I’ve seen play a lot better this summer. Russell has a nice team but this was just one of those nights were we jumped on them and kept going.”
RUSSELL 4 10 2 6 - 22
EAST CARTER 23 18 15 7 - 63
Russell (22) — Jachimczuk 6, Huddleston 5, Berry 3, Thompson 3, May 3, Harrison 2. Fouled out: None. FT 5-10. 3pt FGs: 3 (Berry, Thompson, May)
East Carter (63) — Stickler 15, Hall 12, Mayo 7, Stumbo 7, Bayes 6, Damron 6, Greenhill 5, Pennington 3, Brainard 2. Fouled out: None. FT 9-15. 3pt FGs: 6 (Stickler 2, Damron 2, Mayo, Pennington).