By Doug Gorman
The Eagle's Landing Christian Academy Lady Chargers opened the 2009-10 basketball season with a 61-33 victory against Fellowship Christian Tuesday night.
After spotting the Lady Paladins a 5-0 lead in the first few minutes of the game, ELCA's full-court press began working, sparking the Lady Chargers to a 9-0 run.
From there, ELCA never trailed again.
"The press really did what we wanted it to do," said ELCA head coach Keith Batchelor. We created turnovers, but they came in spurts. We gave up some easy basket, but I think we got a lot more out of it, than we gave up."
The Lady Chargers limited Fellowship Christian to just 11 shots from the field all night.
Three players who just over a month ago led the Lady Chargers to the school's fourth-straight Class A state softball title showed they had made the switch to a basketball mode, pacing ELCA to the victory with double-figure performances.
Symone Ball led the way with 24 points, Julia Echols added 16 and Kacie Patterson tossed in 10.
Ball and Echols each connected on 3-point shots in the first quarter as the Lady Chargers built a double-digit lead at 23-13.
ELCA pulled away in the second quarter as Patterson hit back-to-back baskets midway through the stanza. By the end of the first half, the Lady Chargers extended their lead to 39-22.
Echols basket with 1:41 remaining the first half, gave ELCA the first 20-point lead of the game.
"I thought we rebounded and shot the ball well," Batchelor said after the game.
Echols took over for ELCA in the third quarter scoring nine of her points during the period, and adding two more 3-point shots.
Fellowship Christian managed a pair of 3-point shots in third period by Emily Sonnet and Cailin Freemyer, but ELCA was able to build a 54-28 lead heading into the final quarter.
ELCA stays at home for its next game, taking on St. Francis Friday night in a 6 p.m. tip-off.
ELCA 81, Fellowship 59 (boys): The Eagle' s Landing Christian Academy boys had just one week to practice as a full squad after getting members of the team who also play football back from the gridiron.
The short time together didn't seem to bother the Chargers as they rolled to a 81-59 victory.
Junior Taylor Echols led the way with 24 points and freshman Isaac Rochell chipped in 11 with a strong performance inside en route to the season-opening win.
"We are young, but this was a good performance since we have only been together for a week," ELCA coach Buck Hunter said.
ELCA built an 18-12 lead early in a game that was physical from the opening tip. Both clubs had 10 team fouls midway through the second quarter, spending time in the double bonus.
But the Chargers pulled away by the break, building a 45-29 lead at the half.
Echols 3-pointer from just past midcourt at the buzzer sent ELCA into the locker room with plenty of momentum.
After Friday's game at home against St. Francis, ELCA entertains Union Grove on Saturday. The doubleheader starts at 4 p.m. with a girls game, followed by the boys at 5:30.