By Brian Paglia
Eagle's Landing did not have the same luxury as its opponent going into Tuesday night. The Golden Eagles did not have two regular-season games under their belt and did not have a victory over a top-10 team. Woodland had both.
Instead, Eagle's Landing had scouting time. The Golden Eagles watched Woodland in wins over Salem and No. 10 Stockbridge and observed how the Wolfpack would operate now that their two leading scorers from last season, Elliot Davis and Darius Tookes, had graduated.
Eagle's Landing put that scouting to good use in the second half of its 44-33 win over Woodland. Behind an invigorated defensive effort, the Golden Eagles held Woodland to just 10 points in the second half. And behind Eric Wortham's game-high 18 points, Eagle's Landing overcame the first-game shortcomings of 10 turnovers and inconsistent free-throw shooting.
"For the first game of the year we didn't score much, but our defense was good enough to get us through in the second half," Eagle's Landing coach Clay Crump said. "We have a lot of things we need to improve ... but we're pleased with our effort."
Woodland (2-1) went into halftime with a 23-21 lead even without starting small forward Terrance Williams, who was ejected just 2 minutes 48 seconds into the game after getting a technical foul. Seven different Wolfpack players had scored, and Woodland prevented Eagle's Landing (1-0) from making easy entry passes under the basket to 6-foot-8 sophomore Desmond Ringer (eight points, 11 rebounds).
But Woodland had no answer for Wortham. He scored nine points in the second quarter on a driving layup, a driving bank shot, a short floater and a three-pointer from the right elbow.
As a 6-foot-4 point guard, Wortham was too great a mismatch.
"Eric is a very, very tough match-up, because he's a big guard and in the offseason he got so much better shooting the 3," Crump said. "Early in the second quarter, when we had a hard time scoring, he gave us a little spurt there.
"He runs the offense, is a coach on the floor and did a very good job for us."
Indeed, Wortham displayed a deft shooting touch from long-range, but it was his transition layup while swarmed by three defenders that gave the Golden Eagles a much-needed boost in the fourth quarter.
"I saw I had a chance to score and I thought the team was a little down," Wortham said, "so it was a big moment."
Wortham finished with a game-high 18 points.
A'Darius Porter led the Wolfpack with eight points and 10 rebounds. No Woodland player scored in double figures.
A week after Woodland scored 64 points against Stockbridge, the Golden Eagles made the Wolfpack look like the team just opening its season.
"Coach had us totally prepared," Wortham said. "We had nothing to worry about. We just had to go out there and perform."
And he did.
Woodland girls 39, Eagle's Landing 33: After giving up 18 points in the first quarter, the Lady Wolfpack clamped down on defense and survived with a win on the road to stay undefeated.
Ayana Lambert came off the bench to lead Woodland (3-0) with 13 points. Morgan Jones added eight points and eight rebounds.
Mia Adams led Eagle's Landing (0-1) with 17 points. The Lady Golden Eagles went just 8 for 23 from the free-throw line.