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Boys basketball: Eastland can't keep up with Le-Win in regional loss

Panthers pull away from Cougars

PEARL CITY – After trailing to Eastland by a point to end the first quarter, Lena-Winslow scored a rare trifecta on its way to a 53-29 regional final win.

In consecutive order on the first three possessions of the second quarter, Sean Ormiston, Isaiah Bruce and Luke Benson were fouled on scored baskets. Each player converted the free throw, and the 10-9 Eastland lead turned into an 18-10 deficit.

"That was something, especially each adding the free throw," Le-Win coach Kyle Benson said. "That got us rolling. We executed and stayed focused the rest of the way."

Le-Win beat the Cougars in all aspects of the game – shooting, assists, rebounding, blocks, drawing charges, committing fewer turnovers and getting loose balls.

In Eastland's defense, the Cougars had been fighting player illness all week in a grueling three-game gauntlet. Still, they did not use that as a reason for the loss.

"No excuses," senior Stephen Reifsteck said. "In the game of basketball, you got to keep playing."

Senior post player Brock Coatney returned the lineup after a lengthy bout with the flu, but wasn't at full strength. Kellen Henze and Drew Burkholder hit 3-pointers in the first quarter to stake Eastland to the lead. Carson Clouse added a pair of scores in the first quarter.

"We came out ready to go, but then couldn't get into sync," Eastland coach Tyler Zumdahl said. "I don't think the flu factored into it. They just kicked our butt."

The Panthers scored in the first eight possessions of the second quarter in taking a 28-13 lead. Braydin Preston had a 3 and Clouse another score in that stretch for Eastland, but in between were three turnovers – charging, traveling and stepping out of bounds.

"We had bad turnovers and gave up too many offensive rebounds," Zumdahl said.

A perfect example was Bruce out-muscling Eastland players in third and fourth quarter for offensive putbacks.

"He's 270 pounds of athleticism," Benson said. "He's a special athlete. If we can get a couple more games in, he'll go over 1,000 points in his career for us."

Bruce led all scorers with 16 points, the only player along with football running mate Sean Ormiston (13) to break double figures. Bruce also added four assists, as Le-Win out-finessed Eastland in the passing game.

"They had more intensity than we did," Zumdahl said. "They did a good job of mixing it up on defense. We didn't get the shots like we normally do."

The third quarter was nearly a goose-egg for Eastland, salvaged only by Reifsteck finally scoring with 40 seconds remaining. Henze added a free throw, but the Cougars were outscored 15-3 for a 43-22 deficit. The final period didn't get much better, as Eastland went the first 4 minutes without a score.

"It kept on getting better and better for us, and then it snowballed," Benson said. "I didn't expect this."

With the win, Le-Win (27-7) tied a school record for wins. Eastland bows out at 26-7 after dropping three games to Le-Win this season.

Henze had nine points, Clouse scored six, and Reifsteck finished with five for the Cougars. Eastland was 3-for-8 from the free-throw line, while Le-Win was 12-for-19.

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