Special to the Daily
It was Mia Adams for the Lady Golden Eagles in the opener, and it was balanced scoring and a furious second half comeback for the Eagles in the nightcap, and Eagle's Landing swept a pair from the host
Stockbridge Tigers. Adams scored 10 in the first and 12 in the third and was a ball of energy throughout as the Lady Eagles (6-9, 5-5 in 4-AAA) handled the Lady Tigers 48-36. Stockbridge dropped below .500 at 9-10 overall (8-4 in region play). Stockbridge led for most of the boys game until Eagle's Landing's comeback pushed them ahead in the fourth, and the Eagles (14-3, 7-3) then held off the Tigers 67-62. Stockbridge is now 10-7, 8-4.
"My team takes every challenge and grows from it. I am seeing how the girls gel together more and own up to their mistakes and fix them," praised Lady Tigers coach Tyecia Powell. "I have the utmost confidence in my team. They are smart ball players, and they have the will to win!" On Stockbridge's chances to finish strong and make the playoffs, Powell said, "If everyone stays healthy, we will continue to improve."
Powell's Lady Tigers had trouble from the first quarter on as Adams dominated the first. After the game was tied at one midway through the first, Eagle's Landing broke away for a 14-1 lead. Amari Moreland sank a three-ball with four seconds left in the first, but the Lady Tigers trailed Adams and the Eagles 14-4. Deborah Hoe's three-ball at the first half buzzer closed the gap to 19-15, but that was as close as Stockbridge would get.
Adams put on another show in the third as Eagle's Landing built a 16-point lead and coasted for the win. Adams led all scorers with 26 points, and she added 10 rebounds (all on pure hustle) and seven steals (tenacious defense). Moreland and Miracle Johnson each scored 13 for Stockbridge.
"Yes, Eagle's Landing is tough," understated Stockbridge boys coach Duane Kelley before the game. "Yet we feel we can beat anyone we play if we execute our system properly. We always look forward to tough challenges and Eagle's Landing is one of the toughest in our region."
The Tigers looked ready to pull off the surprise win over the highly-ranked Golden Eagles with a fine effort in the first half. The Tigers committed just four turnovers before halftime, while forcing 15 from Eagle's Landing, which was playing without super sophomore center Desmond Ringer. Dante Campbell was the scoring star of the first half for the Tigers with 16 points. The Tigers led as much as 14 and held a 39-27 lead at the break.
Then the Eagles made their move. It was as if they dialed up the intensity several levels. Defensive pressure forced Stockbridge turnovers, and fast break opportunities turned into points frequently. The comeback was on. A 17-5 third quarter run reduced the margin to 46-44 for the Tigers. The Eagles tied the game at 52 with five and a half minutes to play, then surged to 59-54. That's a 32-13 run for those of you keeping track of those things. Stockbridge closed to 62-60 with a minute to go, but the Eagles made just enough free throws to keep the Tigers at arm's reach.
Campbell took game-high scorer honors with 27 points for the Tigers. Campbell added ten rebounds for the double-double. Leon Prunty led all rebounders with 13. Stockbridge's biggest problem was 16 second-half turnovers.
It was balance for the Eagles in scoring. Aaron Horton scored 15, David Key 16, Isaiah Dennis 11, and Eric Wortham 13. Key and Wortham tied with eight rebounds for Eagle's Landing. Dennis had three steals and a blocked shot.
Golden Eagles head coach Clay Crump commented on the success of his team so far this season. "There's never any one key to your success. We have kids who have really accepted their roles and worked to fulfill them while still trying to expand those roles. These guys compete with each other without having it hurt chemistry. We're a pretty good team defensively. If we can limit their team from doing what it does best and their best players from doing what they like each game, we have enough scoring to give us a chance to win."
On his team's recent success (11 wins in their last 12 games), Crump said "momentum is a tricky thing to manage as a coach. My experience has been that while it increases your team's confidence, it also causes the opponent to focus their effort and concentration because beating you means something. We have to do the things that got that momentum. Take good shots, value the ball, contest every shot, box out."