Eau Claire opened the Region 3-2A girls basketball season with a tough 40-38 win over archrival Keenan Friday at George Glymph Arena.
The Shamrocks raced to an early lead and never let the advantage slip away despite repeated challenges by the young Raiders. Eau Claire improved to 8-3 overall overall, while Keenan dropped to 10-4.
The pattern of the game was established in the first quarter. The host Shamrocks broke an early 3-3 deadlock with a 12-1 run that began with a jumper from the right wing by Tameka Sumter at the 6:38 mark and concluded with a 3-pointer from the right corner by Thaesha Lyles off a pass by Sumter with 3:24 to go in the opening frame. Lyles tallied two 3-pointers and eight points during the run.
The Shamrocks, however, did not score again until the 3:41 mark of the second quarter. Keenan made its move late in the first quarter when Daisha Eddy fired in two 3-pointers in the final 37 seconds.
That’s the way it played out the rest of the way. Keenan would pull close, only to see the Shamrocks build the lead up again.
EC had a 40-34 lead with 1:01 to go after Sumter drained two critical free throws. But the Raiders kept on fighting. Jocolby Brown scored off the offensive glass with 42 seconds to go. Brown was fouled on the play and missed the free throw, but the Shamrocks could not control the rebound. Keira Robinson made EC pay for the mistake, scoring on the inbounds play to cut the deficit to 40-38 with 39 ticks to go.
The Shamrocks tried to run out the clock from there, but turned the ball over on a five-second violation on an inbounds play from in front of its own bench with 14 second left.
Keenan got the ball in the hands of Eddy, who had an open look from the right wing. The shot, however, was off the mark.
The Shamrocks won behind the solid play of senior center Eboni Ross, who scored 15 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked three shots. Ross tallied 11 of her points in the second half, and always seemed to make a play whenever the Raiders had a chance to tie the score or take the lead.
Only three other Shamrocks chipped in with points. Lyles scored all 11 of her points in the first half, Sumter finished with eight points and Moniqua Davis closed with six.
Eddy, who came into the game with an 18.3 scoring average, finished with 15 points, but did not have a good shooting game. Robinson finished well below her season average of 13.8, scoring only seven points. Insiders Brown and Patrice Stroman scored six points apiece for the Raiders.