MILLEDGEVILLE – Eastland jumped out to a very quick start on Wednesday, and didn't look back against Milledgeville in an NUIC crossover game. The Cougars never let up, and cruised to a 66-24 victory.
A combination of both height and quickness at the guard positions for Eastland (15-3) wreaked havoc on the Missiles (3-12).
"We had to take care of the ball," Milledgeville coach Kyle Knutti said. "Main objective was taking care of the ball and trying to stop Macomber, which is tough."
Down low, junior Lexis Macomber and senior Miranda Grisham controlled the lane for the Cougars. The duo combined for 24 points and 19 rebounds. Each scored 12, and Macomber was a rebound shy of a double-double.
Grisham also put pressure on the Milledgeville guards at the head of the press. Late in the first quarter, Grisham cashed in on turnovers and scored two easy layups as a result of the press within a 10-second window.
"With our press, we work really well as a team," said Grisham. "The box press is actually something that we have been doing since seventh and eighth grade, so we work really well as a team, and we all just came together tonight. Courtney Walker was able to get the deflections, and pass it down to me for easy layups."
The quick spurt gave the Cougars all the momentum, and an 11-point advantage to work with.
High ball pressure by Eastland led to deflections and a disruption in the Missiles' patient offense.
"We talk about deflecting the basketball," Eastland coach Colleen Henze said, "and not always worrying about steals. At the varsity level, you don't always get so many steals. But, if you can get a hand on the ball and deflect it, you will get them out of their rhythm."
Trailing 36-12 at half, Milledgeville showed fight in the second half, but it ultimately could not overcome the guard play and post dominance of Eastland.
"We had to play harder," Knutti said. "They were going after every loose ball, and we were slow and lazy for most of the first half. That's been our first half all year long. We made and adjustment to play harder, and we switched to a man-to-man defense, which is something we don't do very much."
Empty Missile possessions led to a more balanced attack at the other end for the Cougars, who maintained a 46-15 lead heading into the final stanza.
The fourth quarter ended in a free-throw duel between Eastland sophomore Mackenzie Doubler and Milledgeville senior Taylor Grenoble. Grenoble went 5-for-6 from the line, while Doubler went 8-for-8, all in a 2-minute span to conclude the game.
Eastland 66, Milledgeville 24
Star of the game: Miranda Grisham, Eastland, 12 points, 10 rebounds
Key performers: Lexis Macomber, Eastland, 12 points 9 rebounds; Taylor Grenoble, Millegeville, 7 points
Up next: Eastland at Galena, 7:30 Friday; Aquin at Milledgeville, 7:30 Friday