In a game that saw Eastside sleepwalk through the first period, only to come back to life in the second and third quarters, it came down to a frenetic fourth as the Lanier Lady Longhorns took a physical 42-38 win over the Lady Eagles at Lanier High School Wednesday night.
With the loss, Eastside dropped to 12-11 on the season, 3-4 in Region 8-AAAA. Lanier improved to 10-11, and 4-3 in the region. Zaria Hall-Barton and Jymara Smith paced the Lady Eagles with 12 points apiece, while Lanier’s Lauren Brown led all scorers with 15 points.
“We got out-rebounded, especially at the end, and we had a lack of hustle at the end,” Eastside coach Matthew Jackson said. “It being a long trip (to Lanier), we came out flat. But even with that being said, we came back. We established ourselves, but just couldn’t maintain it at the end because they got more physical at the end."
It seemed that the Lady Eagles had left their game on the bus as they were slow to react on defense, committed uncharacteristic turnovers and shot the ball poorly. The Lady Longhorns jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, which ballooned to 9-3 at the 4:33 mark, 11-3 with 2:47 left and finally to 14-6 after the first period.
Eastside shook off the long bus ride in the second, as it scored five straight points to make it 14-11 with less than two minutes gone in the quarter. Lanier scored two more baskets to take an 18-11 lead with 4:58 left in the half, but then began a nearly nine-minute stretch without a single point. With strong rebounding and better shooting, the Lady Eagles were able to take a 19-18 lead into the locker room at halftime.
With Lanier’s shooting woes continuing, Eastside pushed the lead to 26-18 before the Lady Longhorns broke their scoring drought with 3:47 gone in the third period. The bucket seemed to portend things to come, as Lanier hung with Eastside and trailed 32-26 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Lady Eagles struck first as Smith scored a basket 15 seconds in. But then, as Jackson said, Lanier stepped up physically, and it was Eastside that went into a shooting drought. The Lady Longhorns cut the lead to 34-30 at the 6:05 mark and took a 35-34 lead with 3:34 left to play, setting up the pulsating finale.
Eastside finally scored with 2:43 left to cut Lanier’s lead to one, 37-36.
On the ensuing play, Lanier’s Lauren Brown, who was well-defended, threw up a wild shot that, somehow, found the basket while she drew a foul. Brown missed the free throw, but the Lady Longhorns got the rebound and were fouled again.
Lanier made the first free-throw to lead 40-36, missed the second, but got the offensive rebound again. After a Lanier missed shot, Eastside got the ball, streaked down court, and the Lady Eagles’ Hall-Barton was fouled while shooting.
With the crowd screaming, she coolly sank both free-throws to cut Lanier’s lead to two, 40-38. Lanier missed a shot, Eastside got the rebound and Deshantra Kelly put up a 3-pointer that would’ve given the Lady Eagles the lead.
But, the ball clanked off the rim and Lanier gathered the rebound and called timeout with 1:01 left in the game.
Eastside stole the inbounds pass, but immediately turned the ball over and had to foul the Lady Longhorns to stop the clock with 38.5 seconds to play.
Lanier missed the first free-throw, and Eastside got the ball and threw a quick outlet pass.
The pass, however, was picked off by Brown, who then stepped out of bounds to give the Lady Eagles one more chance to tie the game.
Eastside’s Janelle Cook missed her shot, but was fouled and went to the line with a chance, again, to tie the game with 12.3 seconds to play.
Unfortunately for the Lady Eagles, Cook missed both free-throws, the Lady Longhorns got the ball, and Eastside fouled Amber Cesair, who sank both free-throws and sealed the win, 42-38.