PDT Sports Contributor
One of the great things about athletic events on any level is the unpredictability of what is going to happen over the course of a game or a matchup.
Thursday night’s contest between the Eastern Eagles and the Notre Dame Titans was a great example of that theory.
The Eagles, who were down by as many as 16 points (48-32) with a little more than seven and a half minutes to play in the game, came roaring back to take their first lead with a minute and 37 seconds left and held on for a 59-55 victory to officially take the SOC I title outright by virtue of winning the contest.
Jubilation was the best word to use to describe Eastern’s Rob Day after the way the game played out.
“It’s amazing,” Day said. “We got down early, but the girls never gave up, never quit. “
Day said that the team’s effort to get back into the ballgame was excellent.
“ … I believe we took our first lead in the ballgame with about a minute and 37 (seconds) left on the clock,” Day said. “The girls did a great job. What I am most proud of, though, is that they kept fighting and kept playing hard throughout the game.”
A major reason why the Eagles were able to come back was because of Carson Roney’s output – especially in the fourth quarter.
Through three quarters of play, Roney had just three points and had to deal with foul trouble for the vast majority of the game by virtue of picking up her fourth foul early in the third quarter.
However, Roney found her groove in a major way in the fourth quarter as she scored 17 points in the period; including 10 points in a row at one point to give the Eagles a 55-54 lead before eventually fouling out of the game with a shade over 25 seconds left in the contest.
“Carson’s amazing, and at 15 years old, she’s really just a kid right now,” Day said. “But it’s not just her. All of the girls are right there with her and they did a great job tonight.”
On the other side of the coin, Notre Dame coach J.D. McKenzie was visibly upset with how the game ended.
“For three quarters, we achieved our game plan,” McKenzie said. “But in the fourth quarter, we could not have played worse. It’s just plain devastating.”
The Titans immediately jumped out to a 12-2 lead on Eastern to start the game after forcing several Eagle turnovers early on and would push the lead up to 34-23 at the halftime break when Hagen Schaefer scored on a putback at the horn after Brooke Pierron missed two free throws at the line.
Notre Dame would extend the lead to 48-32 in the early moments of the fourth quarter until Eastern made its aforementioned run behind Roney. Her go-ahead bucket with a minute and 37 seconds left gave Eastern its first lead of the entire contest.
The Titans had a chance to tie the game after Pierron was fouled by Roney, but Pierron missed the second of two free throws at the line. Jenny Keppler was there to grab the rebound for Eastern and made one of two from the stripe to push to lead back to 57-55.
Notre Dame would have two more chances to cut into the deficit but were not able to advance the ball past half court either time. Haley Stanley converted off of the first turnover to put the game out of reach for the Titans.
Roney would finish as the high-scorer in the contest with 20 points and Paige Sanders added a dozen for Eastern. Pierron and Schaefer led a balanced scoring effort for Notre Dame with 14 and 12 points, respectively, while Maggie Hoover and Katie Edwards added 11 points apiece for the Titans.
Both teams will play each other again Saturday evening, with the contest taking place at Eastern.
Eastern 14 9 9 27 – 59
Notre Dame 19 15 12 9 – 55
Eastern – Sanders 6-0-12, Staker 3-0-6, Stanley 2-3-7, Roney 9-2-20, Alley 4-1-9, Keppler 2-1-5, Totals 26-7-59.
Notre Dame – Hoover 2-6-11, Edwards 4-3-11, Pierron 4-5-14, Schaefer 6-1-13, Kayser 3-0-6, Totals 19-15-55.
3-Point Goals – Eastern none, Notre Dame 2 (Hoover, Pierron).
Records – Eastern 15-5 (13-0); Notre Dame 11-6 (10-2).