Belpre gets rare win over Eastern

Belpre’s Abbey LaFatch, center, looks to pass as Eastern’s Kelsey Casto, left, and Jess Parker, right, defend during a high school girls basketball game Saturday. Photo by Steve Hemmelgarn.

BELPRE — Twelve years can be a long time, but the last time Belpre defeated Eastern in girls basketball was that lengthy — until Saturday afternoon.

That’s when the drought came to an end for the Golden Eagles, who overcame a slow start to outscore Eastern 51-34 in the last three quarters en route to recording a Tri-Valley Hocking 59-53 victory over their visitors.

Both teams are now 4-2 on the season, with Belpre’s next game at South Gallia 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Eastern took a 7-0 lead Saturday before Abbey LaFatch had a hoop for Belpre at the five-minute mark. But with the count at 11-6, Eastern finished the first quarter on an 8-2 run to up its margin to 19-8 heading to the second stanza.

In the second period, Belpre got going better offensively and behind three treys in an 11-3 burst by Sydney Spencer and LaFatch, the Golden Eagles pulled within three at 22-19 before Spencer’s driving layup at 1:10 narrowed the gap to just two at 25-23.

However, a basket by Kaitlyn Hawk and a pair of foul shots by Alyson Bailey pushed Eastern ahead 29-23 at the halftime break.

Eastern was up 33-25 in the third quarter when Belpre went on an 8-0 spurt, led by six straight points by Kyna Waderker and then LaFatch taking a feed inside from Curstin Giffin to knot the score at 33-all at 3:51.

After a tie at 36, Belpre took the lead for the first time in the game at 38-36 on two Lakin Hupp free throws at 1:38. But with Eastern on top 40-38, Kyanna Ray sank a 3-ball from the right wing to lift Belpre into a 41-40 edge at 7.8 seconds it took into the final quarter.

In the fourth, a Waderker free throw and rebound bucket knotted up the game at 42 and 44 respectively. However, her basket was the beginning of an 8-0 run that propelled Belpre into a 51-44 lead. But as quickly as Belpre bolted ahead, Eastern bounced right back with an 8-0 push of its own to retake the point advantage at 52-51 with the clock starting to wind down at 2:56.

Over the time left though, Belpre tallied eight of the last nine points to win by six.

In the game-ending push to victory for Belpre, Ray sank a trey and converted two free throws, while Giffin dropped three foul shots through the net.

For the game, Waderker led Belpre with 17 points, followed by LaFatch with 13, Ray with 11 and Spencer with eight, while pacing Eastern were Jess Parker with 17 points and Elizabeth Collins with 16.

“It was good to get a win,” said Belpre head coach Chris Murray, “because our last game at Federal Hocking, we played kind of flat and lost. Federal is a good team though, but our goal today was we needed to play better.

“When our girls play like they played today, they’re tough to beat. They beat a good team today, which is good for us.”

Murray added that “when we go to watch film on this (game), the girls are going to see that if they do things the right way and do the little things and eliminate turnovers, it gives you an opportunity to win games. And today, they did that. They rebounded the ball and played better defense in the second half. That was an excellent job; they did a very good job.

“I was extremely proud of their effort, and this should give them a boost — after all, they’re the ones that play the games.”