Updated Mon, Mar 24, 2014 4:52 pm
Jenna Burdette put on a show for the second consecutive game, scoring 38 points to propel the Eastern Lady Eagles to the State Championship game with a 68-59 victory over the Fort Loramie Redskins.
The ‘Skins and Eagles came out playing rough defense from the tip. Just as most predicted, Burdette and Fort Loramie star Darian Rose came out looking to establish control of the game.
The Co-Players of the Year combined for 12 points in the first quarter, which drew to a close with the Redskins up 15-14.
Katie Keller and Erin Swatzel finished the initial period with two fouls each. Foul trouble proved problematic throughout the contest for the Eagles.
The two fought one another back-and-forth with more of the same, Rose and Burdette jostling for the lead. Rose hit a 3-pointer early in second to put the Redskins up 18-14. Eastern chipped in buckets for each Fort Loramie basket.
Kelly Turner stepped up to the line and knocked down two free throws to put the ‘Skins up two late in the second at 30-28. Keller responded and tied things up the next time down the court, which was followed by Jenna Burdette putting Eastern up 32-30 going in to the half with a layup.
Eastern kept up the small lead in the second half, a lead that held throughout the rest of the game despite a spirited Redskins effort.
Swatzel and the Eagles came out hustling to start the half, getting on the floor for loose balls and strong boards.
Burdette knocked down a trey at the 1:11 mark to put the Eagles up 41-35. The Co-POY Burdette hit another layup before the end of the third period bringing Eastern’s third quarter advantage to 11-5 in what was a big turning point in the game.
“This team can play really good defense when we have to,” Eastern coach John Burdette said. “We have to communicate with each other and have each other’s back.”
Fort Loramie scored 24 points with Eastern netting 25 in the final quarter of play.
Eastern did, however, run into trouble with fouls. Keller and Swatzel both fouled out late in the fourth.
The Redskins still had a chance, before Burdette made a play showing just how head-smart the future University Dayton star is.
Up five with the ball, the Eagles lost the ball towards their own bench. Burdette dove towards the ball and with a strong tap, got the ball to Hannah Barringer under the basket for a gimme that all but clinched the victory.
Burdette sunk free throw after free throw down the stretch to win the game. Burdette finished 13-15 from the line to go with six rebounds and five steals. Her 38 points tied a state semifinal game record, and was the third highest total for a girl at the state tournament level.
“Jenna Burdette. What a phenomenal guard that they have,” Redskins coach Carla Siegel said. “We threw three or four defensive players at her and tried to trap her and tried to get her flustered, but she’s a phenomenal player.”
Jordan Parker contributed 12 points for the winners and Katie Keller dominated low-post play on the defensive end with five blocks and 12 rebounds.
The Eagles were able to overcome a relatively poor shooting night from downtown (1-14 from 3-point land) by shutting down the Redskins’ scorers, other than Rose. Rose did come up with 26 points, but Eastern forced the Co-POY into eight turnovers.
“I’m very proud of the way the girls came in and played hard. Katie Keller…she had a heck of a game for us” John Burdette said. “Jordan and Jenna, they all played well. I was really glad to see how our bigs played.”
Fort Loramie only shot 33 percent from the field in the loss.
The Eagles are just one game away from finishing business against Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans, a team that they beat at home on Dec. 28, by a score of 70-53.