LUCASVILLE — Eastern Brown’s girls basketball team was able to cut down some nets on Saturday.
They’d like to do that a couple more times.
The Lady Warriors disposed of Federal Hocking, 52-34 at Valley High School in a Southeast Division III Sectional Final.
Eastern (22-1) got out to a hot start, draining five first quarter 3-pointers and used their defense the rest of the way in their first game of a what they hope to be a quest to Columbus for the Final Four.
“One step at a time. Our goals are set a little bit higher than a sectional win or a league win. We’ve got big goals and that’s what we’ve planned from day one in the summer,” Lady Warriors coach Kevin Pickerill said. “When we bring each group in the summer, we set our standards and what our team goals we want from them. That’s why we put ourselves in the situations we do, schedule a lot of road games, a fairly tough schedule, try to get a lot of road games that are tough and getting out of your comfort zone.”
Camryn Pickerill, the daughter of Kevin nearly echoed what the head coach and dad had to say. While Saturday’s win was nice, it was an expectation even before the season began, the Lady Warriors claiming their sixth straight sectional title.
“We definitely have season goals and one of them was winning the league and winning the gold ball and since we couldn’t accomplish a gold ball we’re playing with a bit of a chip on our shoulder. We wanted to go six-peat with the sectional championship today and we accomplished that and something we take pride in. It’s something that we also expected to do, so the standard isn’t a sectional championship, the standard is a district championship and that’s what we need to work toward,” Camryn Pickerill said.
Pickerill led the way with 14 points in the game, getting Eastern’s offense going early with a couple of 3-pointers, Rylee Leonard then followed with a triple of her own, Ashlee Minnix and Emma Prine also burying long range shots as the offensive outburst from the Lady Warriors in the first quarter (26 points) matched their total point output the final three quarters.
“We knew they were big and long and fairly athletic. We wanted to drag them out from the post, so we did a lot of high set series hoping to drag them up and kind of chase us and that would get our guards to transition towards the rim. I felt like the kids did that early and then made the extra pass and was able to make some shots,” Pickerill said. “Our shooters came ready to play today and knocked down some big shots. The start kind of set the tone and they had to switch back from what they wanted to play.”
The hot start got Eastern a 15-point lead after one before taking a 35-18 lead into the half.
“From a coaching standpoint that was huge. When you don’t have a lot of postseason experience, you want to jump out early and that kind of lets the kids settle in and let’s them think it’s just another game. I thought we did that well,” Pickerill said.
The basket got a little smaller from there for Eastern in the second and stretching into the third, hitting a 13-minute span where they scored 13 points, but kept their double-digit advantage due to their defense, forcing 19 Federal Hocking turnovers.
The Lady Lancers got to within 15 in the third, but a 6-0 Eastern spurt followed, all points coming from Pickerill to take a 45-26 lead into the fourth. The lead would get to as large as 23 in the fourth, Eastern clearing the bench with just under three minutes to play to ride this one out and claim yet another sectional title.
After Pickerill’s 14, Leonard added 13, a freshman getting her first dose of postseason action for a team expected to make a deep run as the No. 1 seed in the Southeast District.
“I’ve played a lot of basketball so I just looked at it as another game and just did me,” Leonard said. “Hitting our early shots not only got me going, but the rest of the team going as well.”
Despite the length that Federal Hocking possessed, the Lady Warriors kept the rebounding battle even, both teams grabbing 34 rebounds in the contest, Mackenzie Gloff pulling down 10 boards for the Lady Warriors.
Eastern held a distinct advantage at the free throw line, knocking down 13-of-23 attempts, Federal Hocking hitting just 2-of-6 attempts from the charity stripe.
Eastern’s next order of business will come Thursday when they take on Albany Alexander in a Southeast District semifinal at Waverly High School. That tip is set for 6:15 p.m.
“They’re very good defensively. They’ve got a coaches daughter as well that runs the point and runs it well. They got a post player that’s a lot like our post player Gloff. We scrimmaged them earlier in the year, they beat us all four quarters and it will be a challenge. We’re excited for it, hoping to get to play them as revenge a little bit from preseason,” Pickerill said.
Federal Hocking was led by Paige Tolson on the day, scoring 16 points and the only Lady Lancer in double figures. Their season ends with a 11-9 record.
LADY WARRIORS 52, LADY LANCERS 34
Hocking (34) — Tolson 16, Tabler 6, E. Beha 4, Smith 3, L. Beha 2, Tate 2, Richards 1
Eastern (52) — Pickerill 14, Leonard 13, Frost 7, Gloff 5 (10 reb), Wills 5, Prine 3, Minnix 3, Brown 2
3-Pointers Made: Hocking 6, Eastern 7
Free Throws: Hocking 2/6, Eastern 13/23
Rebounds: Hocking 34 (E. Behn 7), Eastern 34 (Gloff 10)
Turnovers: Hocking 19, Eastern 14
Records: Federal Hocking 11-9, Eastern Brown 22-1
Eastern Brown’s Camryn Pickerill dribbles up the floor, Saturday, during the Lady Warriors Southeast Division III Sectional final against Federal Hocking. Pickerill led the Lady Warriors with 14 points in a 52-34 victory. (Evan Dennison, The Ledger Independent)