East Marion went toe-to-toe with one of the top teams in Class 2A Friday night in the second round but fell short on the road to end its season.
The Lady Eagles’ role players struggled to score in its 54-40 loss to Bay Springs as point guard Destiny Brown accounted for 63% of its points. The star sophomore scored 25 points while making 5-of-14 3-pointers, while the rest of the Lady Eagles combined to shoot 6-of-27 from the field.
Head coach Calvin Brown said East Marion got caught in a vicious cycle that because it couldn’t score, it couldn’t press defensively.
“Without being able to press and speed them up, their big kid (Hailee Nixon) was able to dominate. From rim to rim we thought we had a huge advantage, especially on her, but when you’re not able to get it in the basket you can’t speed her up,” he said. “We spent too much of the game on one end at a time.”
Lia Smith was held to eight points on 4-of-14 shooting, while no other Lady Eagle scored more than two points. Smith and Dyani Weary both had eight rebounds, though, and Azariyah Magee had eight assists.
Even though they were eliminated, Brown said the Lady Eagles aren’t looking at it as the end of the road.
“We’re approaching it as our season didn’t end because we were actually just starting to take form in a lot of areas. Our challenge is that we want the end of this season to be an extension to the beginning of the 2021 season,” he said.
Brown added he’s excited about overall being more talented next season. He pointed to eighth-grader Ellen Porter, who he said would probably start if there was another month in the season, along with freshmen Kaliyah Green, Car’Miyah Bullock and Asia Lenoir. He added they’re all talented but just weren’t experienced enough this year to get extended minutes.
He also likes the development of players who were in the rotation, specifically Michaya Wilson, who missed the second half of the year with an ankle injury, and Faith Cook, who finished the year in the starting lineup despite this being just her third year playing basketball.
“(Cook) wasn’t even expected to see the floor this year, and she ended up starting and being very dependable,” Brown said. “We feel like we’ll be more talented and have more options both offensively and defensively next year.”
Brown said the Lady Eagles are going to miss Kaitlyn Echols, East Marion’s only senior who missed the second half of the year as a precautionary measure following a concussion, because of how committed and dedicated she was to basketball even though track is her best sport.
Pictured Above: East Marion head coach Calvin Brown talks to the Lady Eagles during a timeout in the first round against Lake. | Photo by Joshua Campbell