Eastbrook’s offensive struggles have been well documented this season.
Across several games, they shot only 30 percent from the floor. Even in their Sectional 39 opening win over Madison-Grant, they shot just four-of-25.
Going forward, Eastbrook Head Coach Jeff Liddick knew that his girls would simply have to shoot the ball better.
And in the Sectional 39 semifinal against the Tipton Blue Devils, they delivered.
Behind a strong third quarter and some clutch shots down the stretch in the final frame, the Eastbrook Panthers notched a big upset, punching their ticket to the Sectional 39 championship with a 41-38 victory.
“I think the biggest thing was we took the floor not intimidated and having no fear of our opponent,” Eastbrook Head Coach Jeff Liddick said. “We watched some film on them, and the girls knew how explosive they could be. But we took the floor tonight with that confidence that we could compete with them, and from the opening tip…the girls battled. They never once backed down from them. They played basketball the way we knew they were capable of playing all year long.”
In the first half, both teams struggled to score the basketball. Tipton led 5-2 after the first quarter before increasing that lead to 13-11 at halftime.
But the game changed in the third period, as the Panthers offense exploded, outscoring the Blue Devils 20-7, which included eight huge points from Kristin Goff.
Tipton pushed back in the fourth quarter, trimming the Eastbrook lead to as little as three points, but Sehdah McKim, Johwen McKim, and Bri Stepp all knocked down crucial free throws down the stretch, helping the Panthers secure their three-point triumph.
“We scored 20 points in the third quarter,” Liddick said. “We shot seven-for-10 or seven-for-11, and that included two threes by Kristin. In the fourth quarter, Sehdah, Bri, and Johwen, they stepped up and knocked down some critical free throws to extend our lead.”
Along with their successes on offense, Eastbrook’s defense was stout throughout the evening, keeping a high-powered Tipton offense, who came in averaging 52 points a game, well below their season average.
“Tipton has four girls averaging double figures,” Liddick said. “They’ve got a 6-3, 6-4 girl in the post, and they’ve got two great drivers in [Abigail] Parker and [Ella] Wolfe, and they’ve got a great shooter in [Gracie] Phillips. We were able to limit those four girls on what they do well. It was an all-out effort on the defensive end, like it’s been all year.”
Rachel Manning led the Panthers with 10 points.