By GREG MENGELT
Eastern will face rival Salem in tonight’s Washington County Invitational championship at Henryville after the Musketeers avenged an earlier loss to West Washington and the Lions came back to beat the host Hornets.
The Musketeers, who won at Salem 51-38 on Nov. 30, outscored the Senators 30-14 in the second half for its spot in tonight’s championship. Salem outscored the Henryville 24-12 in the fourth quarter in the second semifinal.
DAVIDSON LEADS LIONS BACK
Salem junior Alex Davidson finished with 20 points and 19 rebounds and led the Lions’ furious fourth-quarter comeback.
Davidson went 4 for 4 from the field and 3 for 4 from the foul line and scored the Lions’ first six points of the final period. She scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the second half.
The Hornets (6-5) led by as many as 12 at 31-19 early in the second half. They still led 39-33 with 5:45 left when Emily Hollis knocked down one of her three 3-point shots.
However, Davidson swiped one of her four steals and went the other way to get Salem within four. After her coast-to-coast bucket off of a rebound that tied the game, Sadie Soliday knocked down a 3 for the Lions’ first lead since 6-4 midway through the opening period.
Huddleston then tied the game on her second 3 of the contest, but Salem finished on a 6-0 run with six free throws.
Hollis led the Hornets with 17 points and also had a team-best four assists and three steals. Huddleston finished with 15 points and Lesha Dallas scored all six of her points in the second quarter and had a Hornet-high seven boards, four of which came on the offensive end in the second period.
Soliday scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half for Salem, which improved to 3-8 with the victory.
DEFENSE PROPELS MUSKETEERS
Eastern coach Mike McBride took responsibility for one of the Class 2A No. 15 Musketeers’ two losses, a 46-43 home loss to West Washington on Dec. 12.
McBride said his Musketeers gave up too many easy buckets because of their press defense in the first meeting. This time, Eastern played tight half-court defense and stifled the Senators.
“It’s something that the girls are enjoying, seeing teams get frustrated trying to score,” McBride said. “It’s something that allows us to get fewer fouls and saves some stamina.”
Rachel Hamilton led 7-2 Eastern with 12 points. Brooke Rodewig and Bailey England scored eight apiece, Morgan Martin had seven, Taylor Drury six and Katie Ernstberger five in the triumph.
“We had great balance,” McBride said. “All in all, it was a great bounce-back win. It was a great effort from all the girls.”
West Washington (6-2) was led by Carrie Miller’s 12 points.
WASHINGTON COUNTY INVITATIONAL
EASTERN 46, WEST WASHINGTON 26
Eastern 12 4 16 14—46
West Washington 9 3 10 4—26
Eastern (7-2): Katie Ernstberger 5, Taylor Drury 6, Bailey England 8, Morgan Martin 7, Brooke Rodewig 8, Rachel Hamilton 12.
West Washington (6-2): Shana Keller 5, Carrie Miller 12, Shelby Springer 5, Taylor Stroud 2, Kalen Nice 2.
3-point field goals: Eastern 4 (England 2, Martin, Hamilton); West Washington 1 (Springer 1).
Free throws: Eastern 8-15, West Washington 5-14.
SALEM 51, HENRYVILLE 45
Salem 10 7 10 24—51
Henryville 12 13 8 12—45
Salem (3-8): Sidney Burger 3, Laken White 3, Danielle Voyles 2, Sadie Soliday 13, Alex Davidson 20, Amber Kilburn 4, Treasure Hurst 6.
Henryville (6-5): Haley Huddleston 15, Tami Burgin 2, Sadie Spears 1, Emily Hollis 17, Abbi Robertson 2, Emma Hendricks 2, Lesha Dallas 2.
3-point field goals: Salem 4 (Burger, White, Soliday, Davidson); Henryville 5 (Hollis 3, Huddleston 2).
Free throws: Salem 10-17, Henryville 6-12.