PEARL CITY – Eastland overcame a 13-point deficit before succumbing to Arizona State-bound Sophie Brunner and defending 1A state champion Aquin.
Down by 13 in the second quarter, the Cougars fought all the way back to a take a two-point lead late in the third period before Brunner and company regained the momentum and again pulled away for a 51-42 victory Friday night in the championship game of the Pearl City tournament.
With her future college coach reportedly in attendance, Brunner poured in a game-high 23 points for the Bulldogs (11-2) on 10-of-13 shooting.
Megan Jannsen came off the bench to ignite Eastland (11-2), scoring eight of her team-high 11 points in the second quarter.
"When it was open, I drove. And, it was open, so I shot," said Janssen, who did the bulk of her damage driving the baseline to the basket.
Janssen was glad she did not have to contend with the 6-foot-1 multitalented Brunner.
"You can't really do much about her," Janssen said. "Luckily, I didn't have to guard her, because I'm 5-2."
Down 22-9 midway through the second quarter, Eastland used a 10-2 tear to make it 24-19.
Aquin answered and took a 30-21 lead into the half after a three-point play from Brunner with less than a second left.
With her team trailing 32-23, the Cougars' Courtney Walker (9 points) knocked down consecutive 3-pointers. Lexis Macomber (9 points) added an inside bucket before a free throw by Brunner.
Haley Miller hit a bucket to pull Eastland even before Janssen knocked down two free throws to put the Cougars in front 35-33 with 2:19 left in the third quarter. It was Eastland's first lead since 3-2.
"When we get down, we pull together. It's amazing," Walker said. "We get this fire and intensity inside us. I don't know how we do it."
Brunner provided eight points down the stretch as Aquin closed with an 18-7 blitz.
"We came out tight and scared," Eastland coach Colleen Henze said. "You're playing the state champs, so it's kind of understandable. I wish we wouldn't have had the bad start, because I think we could have got them."
Star of the game: Sophie Brunner, Aquin, game-high 23 points
Key performers: Megan Janssen, Eastland, 11 points off bench; Lexis Macomber and Courtney Walker, Eastland, 9 points apiece
Up next: Eastland at Dixon tournament, Dec. 27-29