ELIZABETHTOWN — Erica McKoy came up huge in the fourth quarter as the Lady Eagles survived a 29-turnover night and a pesky Midway team to earn a 65-56 win in the second round of the state’s Class 2-A East playoffs Thursday.
The win, East Bladen’s 23rd straight, improved the No. 5 seeded Lady Eagles to 27-1 and will put them on the road at No. 4 Richlands, 25-3, on Saturday.
The Lady Raiders opened the game with a 7-1 burst, but the Lady eagles got a three-pointer from Ashley Hardin and two buckets by Patience Ward to take an 8-7 lead. After Midway went up 10-8, East Bladen got a basket from Ward, a free throw from Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson and a three-pointer at the buzzer by JMP to carry a 14-10 lead into the second quarter.
The Lady eagles’ 6-0 run at the end of the first frame was extended to 11-0 at the start of the second stanza when Hardin drained a three-pointer and Ward dropped in a bucket for a 19-10 edge. After a Midway basket, McKoy got an old-fashioned three-point play — but the Lady Raiders answered with a 4-0 spurt just ahead of a bucket by Moore-Peterson that put East Bladen up, 24-16.
Midway canned two straight baskets before Ward hit a jumper and Moore-Peterson swished home another three-pointer. The Lady Raiders finished the half with a 3-0 spurt, but East Bladen took a 29-23 lead into halftime.
“We didn’t contain (their guard) very well, plus we had way too many turnovers (12) and missed layups,” said East Bladen coach Patty Evers at the intermission.
The Lady Eagles opened the second half with an 11-4 run behind two baskets by Ward, a three-point play by Moore-Peterson, a basket by Lorna Mendell and a basket by Hardin for a 40-27 lead. But Midway finished the third quarter on an 8-1 burst to close the gap to 41-35.
To that point, the Lady Eagles were just 5-for-17 from the line, but that percentage was about to change big time.
East Bladen got four baskets from McKoy in the fourth frame, along with a basket from JMP — but the lady Eagles went 14-of-16 from the line, including 5-of-6 by McKoy and 4-for-4 by Moore-Peterson that sealed the win. Hardin and Ward were each also 2-for-2 from the line as East Bladen outscored Midway by a 24-21 margin down the stretch.
“Survive and move on,” Evers said. “Lorna came up big for us on the boards and Erica did a good job in the fourth quarter — and we finally started making our free throws. But even though they (Midway) played good defense, we still missed a lot of shots we usually make.”
The Lady Eagles put four players in double figures, led by McKoy and Moore-Peterson with 17 points each. McKoy, who scored 13 of her points in the fourth quarter, also had four assists; Moore-Peterson added 13 rebounds to complete her double-double. Ward also had a double-double with 16 points, 15 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots; Hardin scored 10 points with two three-pointers; Mendell had 10 rebounds and two blocked shots.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.