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Lady Bulldogs win title
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Sarah Kate Winfree was named tourney MVP after scoring 17 points in Thursday's championship game. Eastside beat Centertown 28-23. - photo by Jeffery Simmons

If teams didn’t know about Sarah Kate Winfree before, they will make sure to have her name circled on the scouting report now. Winfree helped lead Eastside to the preseason tournament championship, completing an impressive week by dropping 17 points in a 28-23 win over Centertown Thursday night.

Winfree, the tournament MVP, simply couldn’t be stopped during three straight wins. She had 20 points in her team’s opening victory against Boyd, then dropped 28 points against Morrison to push the Lady Bulldogs into the title game. While she was held to her lowest point total of the tourney in the finals, Winfree’s offense and Eastside’s team defense were enough to get things done.

Coach Kyle Cannon, no stranger to winning tournaments locally, was happy to get the year started the right way, especially with Eastside being the host school and getting to hoist the championship trophy on its home court.

“It’s always great to start the year off with a title. It really helps the player’s confidence,” said Cannon. “Our girls played hard. We played good defense and were unselfish, but we still have a lot to work on. Hopefully we can end this season as strong as we’ve started it.”

Avery Bolding got things kickstarted for Eastside with an early 3-pointer, then Winfree went to work with nine points by halftime. Six points from towering center Ruby Denning (who finished with a team-high 10 points) helped Centertown stay close, but the Lady Bulldogs had a 16-13 edge going into the locker rooms.

After the break, Eastside found some breathing room with an 8-2 run. Winfree had four points during the span, while Bolding and Alyssa Parsley each added a bucket to push their team up 24-15 going into the final quarter.

The Lady Warriors made their final push in the waning minutes by swarming Winfree and crashing the glass. Centertown was able to make it a five-point game multiple times in the fourth, but a late weaving layup by Winfree was enough to seal the deal.

With three wins in four nights, along with being at every game as one of the workers helping to organize the tournament, coach Cannon got a good look at the entire league last week. Even after emerging as the preseason champ, he knows his Lady Bulldogs will have to improve to win more titles.

“We are excited to coach this group again this year. It was great to finally tip off the 7-8 grade season and see what all the teams have. It looks to be a very even and competitive league this year,” said Cannon.

After the game, Winfree, Parsley and Bolding were named all-tournament from Eastside, while Denning, Presley Winfree and Maegan Johnson earned recognition from Centertown. Also named all-tournament for their efforts last week were Harmoni Kennerly and Chloe Wanamaker (Morrison), Ali Young (Irving College), Anslee Crick (Dibrell) and Brit Ralph (Boyd).

Scoring from the semifinals, finals and consolation games can be found on the Standard website.