Unfortunately for the Lady Hawks, it still wasn’t enough to them knock McEachern out of the ranks of the undefeated as the top-ranked Lady Indians edged their cross-town and Region 4AAAAA rivals 43-37 on Tuesday at Lovinggood Gym.
For sixth-ranked Hillgrove, it was a big improvement over its 77-40 loss to McEachern on the Lady Hawks’ home floor last month.
Hillgrove (19-3, 11-2) improved Tuesday by doing something that no other opponent has done to McEachern (23-0, 12-0) this season. The Lady Hawks slowed the pace down, and the Lady Indians were unable to go on their patented runs as a result.
While McEachern did come away with the victory, it was held to a single-digit win margin for only the fifth time this year.
McEachern coach Phyllis Arthur praised the effectiveness of the slow-down strategy employed by her Hillgrove counterpart, Sheryl Fowler.
“She did exactly what I would have done,” Arthur said. “I would have slowed it down, but I don’t think I would have done it in this game — I would have waited until later on — but I’m glad she did it. It showed us some different looks, some different things that we’ll run into down the road. She did a good job getting her kids to buy into her plan.”
For Fowler, she saw a much better performance from her players.
“They were shell-shocked (in the first game),” Fowler said. “I just thought we played well as a team. That was the difference. We didn’t play well at all the first time we played them, and they shot tremendously. We just played better (Tuesday).”
Pachiyaanna Roberts scored 14 points, while Dominique Wilson added 11 to lead McEachern.
Mackenzie Ingram scored 11 points for Hillgrove.
McEachern jumped out of the gate quickly as Mia Cooper scored on a layup, and Roberts added a layup of her own off of a steal by Wilson as the Lady Indians ran out to a 10-4 lead with 2:16 remaining in the first quarter.
However, Hillgrove began to settle down and got back into its game plan as Meredith Heyer hit a 3-poiner with 30 seconds left to cut McEachern’s lead to 10-7. Heyer then nailed another 3 with 7:00 left in the first half to tie the game at 10-all.
It then appeared as if McEachern would pull away again, as the Lady Indians went on a 12-2 run that stretched into the early part of the second half.
Roberts scored on a putback, and Wilson hit a jumper after a steal by Joclyn Ramos to give McEachern a 14-10 lead. After a putback by Ingram cut Hillgrove’s deficit to 14-12, Te’a Cooper nailed a 3-pointer and Ramos scored on a jumper with 2:39 left in the first half to give the Lady Indians a 19-12 advantage that they could carry into the locker room at halftime.
Wilson’s 3-pointer with 7:00 remaining in the third quarter increased McEachern’s lead to 22-12, but Hillgrove was able to slow things down again and soon reduced the Lady Indians’ advantage to single-digits.
That would set the tone for the rest of the game as McEachern would build the lead back up, only to have Hillgrove take the air out of the ball and close the gap.
McEachern 65, Hillgrove 57: The Indians trailed 31-24 at halftime, but outscored the Hawks 41-26 in the second half to post the Region 4AAAAA victory at home.
Dimar Hill paced McEachern (12-10, 6-6) with 20 points. Loren Hill added 16, while Tray Fletcher contributed six points and eight assists. Darius English totaled five points, 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots.
B.J. Brown, Kyle Castlin and Dionte Jenkins each had 12 points for Hillgrove (15-9, 8-5). Marcus Dortch had 10.