Updated Fri, Mar 7, 2014 12:25 am
Updated Fri, Mar 7, 2014 12:25 am
Despite the Waterford Wildcats best defensive efforts at Jackson High School Thursday night, the tandem of Jordan Parker and Jenna Burdette led the Eastern Lady Eagles onward to the regional championship game with a 47-30 victory.Parker netted 18 points (including four 3-pointers) and the future Flyer Burdette
poured in 20, proving once again that she plays her best when it matters.
Right from the opening tip, the Wildcats ran their methodical offense in search of points around the basket and picked up an early 6-2 lead thanks to baskets from Dani Drayer and Regan Porter. The Eagles looked sloppy and traded possessions, turning the ball over time and again with Waterford. They compounded those mistakes by missing close range baskets while failing to finish through contact. Everything was going at a sluggish pace for both squads.
Finally a quick spurt put Eastern in the lead, and back in favor of the large crowd who flocked away from their nest to Jackson High School to support their Eagles. Eastern ended the quarter on a 9-0 run, capped by a Jenna Burdette baseline jumper to round off the quarter.
There was even more physical play in the second quarter, with the hustle of Maddie Rigsby shining through. She kept possessions alive and used her body to get several hard-fought boards while Eastern failed to get their normally vaunted offense kick-started.
“Maddie is an extreme competitor and just gets after it every game, guarantee it…if you gotta have some hustle and scrap, Maddie’s the girl” said Coach John Burdette.
Burdette finished on a hard drive to the basket with 27 seconds left and Eastern pulled off one last stop. Swatzel turned the ball over with just under two seconds left and the desperation heave by Drayer caromed off the backboard and off the rim, as the score was set at 19-12 at the half.
Burdette, who picked up her second foul early in the second, played smartly and avoided what could have been a costly third foul.Waterford did not wilt and came out physical once more, fighting back-and-forth with Coach John Burdette’s crew.
Late in the third, as the scoring picked up a bit, Randee Seevers was bowled over on a 3-point look and proceeded to knock all three shots down. The four-point deficit at 29-25 was the smallest margin the ‘Cats had trailed since the score was 15-12. However, Eastern responded with Burdette and Erin Swatzel hitting layups right before the end of the period, and sending the Eagles into the fourth quarter with a 33-25 lead.
A Burdette trey gave Eastern a 38-27 lead, but Seevers 3-ball pulled Waterford back within eight. It was yet another moment that was needed to keep the Wildcat faithful back in the game. It was then that Parker hit a dagger in the corner in front of her own bench to silence Waterford’s fans, and ultimately end the dream for the underdogs.
Eastern came away with a 47-30 victory, far from its prettiest, but it set them further along towards its “unfinished business.” The quote could be seen, “Unfinished Business 2014” could be seen on the backs of the throngs of Eastern fans who made the trek to Jackson. It’s a motto that the fans in Reedsville and their players are steadfast upon.
“We want it more, we wanted it last year, but this year, it’s all or nothing” said senior Katie Keller.
47 was Eastern’s lowest scoring total of the year, and was easily its lowest against a TVC-Hocking opponent, as the Eagles had not scored so few as 65 since their first matchup with Waterford on Jan. 9th Eastern did limit Waterford’s Dani Drayer to 5 points, and impressive number given the past performances she has put up (including 21 against Eastern in their first game of the year).
Burdette said about the upcoming game against Newark Catholic: “If you think Waterford came out played you hard, wait until Saturday.”
Burdette has said before that Catholic would likely give them their best competition on the team’s way to the Schottenstein Center, and now the Eastern Lady Eagles have a chance to perform some unfinished business.