ELIZABETHTOWN – East Bladen’s young Lady Eagles surprised Wilmington New Hanover with a 16-0 opening blitz en route to a 65-46 season-opening non-conference girls’ basketball victory Tuesday night.
“I didn’t expect this,” said Lady Eagle Coach Patty Evers. “We had a really bad practice yesterday, but we shot the ball really well tonight. The girls have been working hard and getting extra shots after practice.”
Sophomore Alexus Mitchell poured in a career-high 22 points to lead the East Bladen scoring. Sophomore Mya McDonald racked up a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds and had a team-high 6 steals. Senior Patience Ward added 12 points and 5 rebounds.
Photos by Kenneth Armstrong
With 3 key senior starters from last season lost to graduation, Evers noted, “It is really a new team this year with 4 freshmen, and with 2 sophomores and a junior who didn’t play a lot last year playing key roles.”
Ward pulled up for a 12-footer then drove for a 3-point play. Mitchell put back a rebound and knocked down a pair of jumpers. McDonald canned a 14-footer and 2 free throws, and freshman AnnaGrey Heustess sank a free throw for the 16-0 lead.
Sophia Bradford dropped in a 6-footer for the first Wildcat basket with 1:41 left in the first quarter, and sophomore Andrehya Shuford made 4 straight free throws.
Heustess delivered an assist to senior Lorna Mendell for a basket, and Heustess and Mitchell added lay-ups for a 22-6 East Bladen lead at the quarter break.
Lay-ups by Mitchell, McDonald, Mendell and Ward and 2 Mitchell free throws kept the Lady Eagles ahead 32-19 at halftime. The East Bladen defense forced 23 New Hanover turnovers in the half – 13 in the first period.
Five points from Shuford sparked a 9-2 New Hanover run that sliced the Lady Eagle lead to 34-28 midway the third quarter, but Shuford fouled out at the 3:28 mark, and East Bladen responded with an 11-4 spurt to push the margin back to 45-32.
Ward started the Lady Eagle run with a 17-footer, Mendell flipped in an 8-footer and junior Katie Evans nailed a 3-point shot. Mitchell tossed in a baseline 6-footer to end the period.
Mitchell connected from 17 feet and hit 4 free throws to start the final quarter. Ward threw in a second-chance 10-footer, McDonald turned a steal into a 3-point play and senior Abbie Cross drilled in a pair of 17-foot jumpers as the Lady Eagle lead grew to 62-41 with 2:17 left to play.
A leg injury kept Mitchell sidelined for half of her freshman season last year. “Alexus has been working hard on her shot,” said Evers. “Katie really helped us handling the ball tonight, and Mya is now the point guard. Lorna is stronger than last season and gives us a big presence inside on defense.”
Mendell finished with 6 points and 7 rebounds. Mitchell and Evans had 3 steals each, and Mitchell grabbed 3 rebounds.
Shuford led the Lady Wildcats with 18 points, and center Destiny Newkirk followed with 14 points.
New Hanover 6 13 13 14 – 46
East Bladen 22 10 13 20 – 65
NEW HANOVER (46) – Emma Beke 2, MoKyla Taylor 4, Via Jennings 2, Destiny Newkirk 14, Andrehya Shuford 18, Mercedes Holmes 2, Sophia Bradford 4.
EAST BLADEN (65) – Katie Evans 3, Lily Lin, Mya McDonald 12, Alexus Mitchell 22, AnnaGrey Heustess 3, Karlie Priest, Abbie Cross 5, Maegan Burney 2, Patience Ward 12, Sara Gargala, Aaniyah Jackson, Lorna Mendell 6, Makayla Dixon.Share: