It was not all what the Greenbrier East Lady Spartans had hoped for, but the experience they gained will be invaluable as the season progresses. East finished 1-2 on their holiday trip to Charleston, South Carolina for the Carolina Invitational with a loss to Reynoldsburg (OH) 76- 33, a win over Porter-Gaud (SC) 65-55 and a final loss to Johnson Central (KY) 62-43.
In the opener against Reynoldsburg, it was one of the few contests that East was just totally outmatched. Reynoldsburg won the Ohio state championship last year and returned several key players from that team. The Spartans will not play another team this year as talented and experienced as the girls from the buckeye state.
East trailed 26-10 after the first quarter and 49-19 at halftime. For the game, the Spartans shot just 28 percent and turned the ball over a season-high 30 times.
A back-and-forth first half versus the Cyclones from Porter-Gaud set up an exciting winning finish in that one.
Cadence Stewart drained a three to open the second half, then hit two free throws and Caroline Dotson scored an old-fashioned three-point play for a 34-32 Spartan lead at that point. Later in the third, Stewart went on a personal 7-0 scoring run that extended her team’s lead to 43-37 late in the quarter. East held a 43-40 lead after three.
Mackenna McClure hit a long 3-pointer early in the final period, then it was just obvious that Stewart was not going to let her team lose. She would add three more makes from downtown, including one where she was fouled and converted the four-point play, and the Spartans sealed the game from the charity stripe to get their lone victory down south.
Stewart had 35 points and her sister Kennedy Stewart added 11. Ryan White netted eight points and 12 rebounds and was named the Magic’s Computer Repair player of the game.
Johnson Central was another team that caused the Spartans fits, but nothing compared to the opener against Reynoldsburg.
Pressure defense was something East (7-3) faced a lot of in the tourney and like stated above, should provide a lot of positive energy when facing the West Virginia teams as their schedule moves forward. East battled but just came up short as Johnson Central shot 50 percent from the floor.
The Spartans shot just 29 percent from the floor and only 24 percent from three. C. Stewart led the team in scoring with 13 and Dotson matched that effort as well and K. Stewart had 12. East had over 20 turnovers. Dotson took home the player of the game honors.
East is back in the mountain state and will play at home this Saturday night, January 7 when they host the South Charleston Lady Black Eagles.