It took almost a full half of play, but the Eastside girls basketball team heated up in the second half, toppling Monroe Area 68-48 in the Lady Eagles’ region opener.
Zaria Barton led three different Lady Eagles in double figures with 17 points, as Eastside cruised to a 22-point fourth quarter lead after falling behind at halftime.
Eastside allowed six points to the Purple Hurricanes in the final eight minutes of play, while Barton scored a team-high 10 points in the fourth quarter to help the Lady Eagles to their seventh victory of the season.
“I’m really, really proud of each and every one of them,” Eastside coach Matthew Jackson said. “We came out flat. We missed shots and free throws, and we made the job a lot harder. In the second half, we got out there and we executed.”
Down 29-26 to start the third quarter, Eastside fell behind by as many as seven, as Monroe Area started the period on a short 4-0 run.
Eastside battled back, however, cutting the Lady Purple Hurricanes’ lead to just one with 5:14 left in the period. The Lady Eagles then went on a 8-2 run, going 6-for-6 at the foul-line to cut Monroe Area’s advantage to 35-34.
Eastside took the lead with 1:18 to go in the quarter on a Jymara Smith layup, and Jasmin Green scored twice from the floor to push the Lady Eagles ahead 46-42. Janelle Cook drained a 2-pointer at the buzzer after a Monroe Area turnover, giving Eastside a 49-42 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Barton scored in a variety of ways in the final period of play, going 4-of-4 from the foul line while getting into the lane for a pair of layups. Eastside pushed its lead to as many as 22 in the period, outscoring Monroe Area 19-6 in the quarter.
“Zaria was very, very big,” Jackson said. “She came up and got some rebounds and stole the ball and went and attacked the basket. She made her shots at the end. I’m real proud of her as far as her effort and everything.”
The Lady Eagles started the game in sluggish fashion, trading baskets with Monroe Area to open the contest.
Down 6-4, Deshantra Kelly and Smith nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Lady Eagles a 10-8 advantage, which Eastside turned into a 16-12 lead heading into the second quarter.
Monroe Area’s Jameria Davis came in off the bench in the second quarter, and provided a spark for the Lady Purple Hurricanes with seven points in the half, as Monroe Area battled back to take the lead heading into the break. Down 24-20, Monroe Area went on a 9-2 run to end the half in part due to Davis’ performance, as the Lady Eagles were held to just a single basket over the final three minutes of the half.
The run allowed the Lady Purple Hurricanes to take a three-point lead at halftime before Eastside’s second half comeback.
Green joined Barton in double figures with 13 points, while Deja Saintilus finished with 11.