No win was harder to get for the Eastside Lady Bulldogs during a perfect season than the last one.
Eastside was able to rally from a double-digit deficit behind a sensational night from Sarah Kate Winfree to beat Morrison 39-36 Saturday, ending its year with all three 7-8 grade titles. The Lady Bulldogs won the preseason tournament, went 10-0 through the regular season for a championship and ended the year by hoisting the 3-Pt Club tourney trophy after its epic comeback.
Winfree went home with some added hardware, earning MVP honors for her 27-point performance in the championship. She was held scoreless in the first quarter as Morrison built a 16-4 lead, but she went on a 13-0 run on her own in the second quarter and hit two huge 3-pointers in the second half to push the Lady Bulldogs to a 15-0 mark this season.
The victory came at the expense of a valiant effort from Morrison, which was led by Harmoni Kennerly’s 21 points. The Lady Eagles, second in the regular season and postseason, never went away in the championship, but Chloe Wanamaker’s 3-pointer before the buzzer just missed the mark as Eastside escaped the upset bid.
“It is hard to beat any good team three times, but to beat them four is very unlikely and very difficult. Our girls are mentality and physically tough and are hard to rattle,” said Eastside coach Kyle Cannon. “I couldn’t be more proud of this great group of young ladies. They pride themselves on playing good defense and rebounding. They are very unselfish group that only worries about winning.”
Victory seemed far from certain when Morrison got rolling early. Kennerly was a wrecking ball hammering away at the Eastside defense, either finishing at the rim or earning trips to the line. Morrison’s leading scorer went to the line 21 times in the championship game, including many times in the first quarter when the Lady Eagles went up by double figures.
Eastside started to claw back in the second, with Alyssa Parsley hitting a big jumper to start a rally. Parsley would finish with 10 points and earn all-tournament honors for the Lady Eagles.
Winfree took care of the rest of the scoring during a 15-0 burst. She scored on putbacks, grabbed steals for easy scores and flashed a trademark floater to put Eastside up 19-18 at halftime. Baylee Vincion had a tip-in at the buzzer for Morrison to stop Eastside’s big run.
The Lady Eagles retook the lead, 24-23, midway through the third, but Winfree came back with two nifty finishes in the paint and a straightaway triple to keep Eastside ahead 30-27 going into the fourth.
Kennerly hit a tough leaner with 1:44 left to cut Eastside’s lead to 36-34 late, but Winfree had another answer. She went glass for the second time on a top-of-the-key triple, nailing a 3-pointer with 1:20 to go to put Eastside up five.