ELKTON — Thursday’s Conference 36 girls’ basketball championship game between East Rockingham High School and R.E. Lee seemed like it would live up to the billing — and it did. For two quarters.
Lee used a 14-4 run to start the second half and distanced itself from East Rock, running away with the conference title, 58-30.
Both teams had already qualified for the 2A East regional tournament, which starts Tuesday. East Rock hosts George Mason, and the Lee Ladies host Page County.
Junior guard Katelyn Corbett led Lee with 18 points, and sophomore guard Secret Bryant added 17 for the Lee Ladies, who opened the game on a 13-4 run and forced East Rock (17-6) to play from behind the whole night.
“We couldn’t make a shot,” ERHS coach Paul Comer said. “We struggled to put the ball in the hole and struggled to keep from turning the ball over.”
East Rock trailed by eight points after the first quarter but battled back in the second, holding Lee to just six points in the frame.
Freshman guard Madison Shifflett’s 3-pointer from the left wing just before halftime appeared to give the Eagles momentum heading into the locker room, as they cut the deficit to 22-17.
But Lee came out in a zone in the second half, which caused problems for ERHS. The Eagles struggled, turning the ball over on several occasions and missing open looks that led to uncontested layups for Lee.
“If you can run it, you run it,” Lee interim coach Tampa Stuart said. “We was in transition; we had it. Ain’t no need to stop it. If it’s working, you work it.”
Said Comer: “We’ve been struggling on the defensive end all year. Until we commit ourselves on the defensive end, we are going to continue to get what we got there tonight. Good teams will find a way to put you out. That’s what they did to us tonight.”
Freshman center Lexi Dean led East Rock with eight points, and Shifflett added seven.
“We can usually shoot our way out of a zone,” Comer said. “We just didn’t shoot the ball well tonight. When you’re not shooting well, a zone is pretty effective.”
Lee outscored East Rock 21-9 in the third quarter to build a 43-26 lead. The Eagles managed only four points in the fourth quarter and were outscored in the second half 36-13.
The good news for the Eagles is that it wasn’t an elimination game.
“The great thing about it is you got to live to play another day,” Comer said. “We are a good basketball team. We just didn’t play well tonight. We’ll regroup and go again.”
Bryant 7 2-2 17, Welcher 3 3-5 9, Bartley 2 0-1 4, Snyder 1 0-0 2, Corbett 8 2-2 18, Wingfield 4 0-0 8. Totals 25 7-10 58.
Williams 1 0-0 2, Comer 1 0-0 2, Shifflett 3 0-0 7, Dean 4 0-0 8, Smith 1 0-0 3, McPike 1 0-0 2, Bailey 1 0-0 2, Gooden 1 2-4 4. Totals 13 2-4 30.
R.E. Lee 16 6 21 15 — 58
East Rockingham 8 9 9 4 — 30
3-point goals—R.E Lee 1 (Bryant, East Rockingham 2 (Shifflett 1, Smith 1). Fouled out—none. Total fouls—R.E. Lee 11, East Rockingham 12.