ELIZABETHTOWN — The Lady Eagles passed Thursday’s crucial test against Clinton with flying colors, nearly doubling up the visitors for a 58-30 Four County Conference win.
The victory keeps the Lady Eagles perfect on the season at 9-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference. It also gives them a leg up two of the tougher teams in the group, Midway and Clinton. The Lady Dark Horses were handed their first loss of the season and fell to 8-1, 1-1.
East Bladen got out of the gate quickly, outscoring Clinton 12-0 until the Lady Dark Horses sank a basket with 9 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Lady Eagles opened the game with baskets by Christiana Cromartie and Lacey Sugges before Suggs added a pair of free throws, Abby Ward drained a three-pointer and Suggs finished off the run with three free throws.
The second quarter started out nearly the same, as East Bladen went on a 9-0 spurt behind a pair of quick three-pointers by Ward, a basket by Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson and a free throw by Suggs for a 21-2 lead. But Clinton answered with a 5-0 burst to cut the deficit to 21-7 before Suggs sank a basket. After a Clinton bucket, Lexi Mendell hit a short basket, but the lady Dark Horses buried a three-pointer to pull within 25-12 at halftime.
“I don’t know what we were doing in the second quarter,” said East Bladen coach Patty Evers. “It’s probably the worst quarter we’ve played all season.
“We didn’t run the offense, we backed off on defense — it was awful,” she added.
The two teams traded points in the third quarter’s early going, and Clinton seemed to be beating the Lady Eagles to the ball. But with the score 33-21, East Bladen went on an 8-0 run behind two baskets by Suggs, one by Ashley Hardin and two free throws by Cromartie. After the Lady Dark Horses got an old-fashioned three-point play, Suggs buried a basket to give East Bladen a 43-24 lead after three quarters.
Clinton opened the fourth frame with a small 5-3 run, with East Bladen’s points coming on a Miller Heustess basket and Suggs free throw. But the Lady Eagles all but sealed the game with an 8-0 spurt on breakaway baskets by Suggs, Cromartie, Moore-Peterson and Emily Scott. After a Lady Dark Horses free throw, Moore-Peterson and Mendell each scored to complete the 28-point win.
“I think we played good defense overall,” Evers said. “They were quick, but we got them tired and we were able to score in transition late in the game.
“Miller (six points) really helped us a lot in the third quarter,” she added. “It was probably the best defense we’ve seen so far this year.”
Suggs led East Bladen with 21 points and added nine rebounds and three steals. Ward scored nine points with her trio of three-pointers and added seven assists. Heustess finished with eight points, while Cromartie had six points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for the Lady Eagles. Moore-Peterson scored six points and contributed seven rebounds and three steals. Scott pulled down eight rebounds.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.