Lynchburg-Clay senior Hannah Binkley shoots a 3-pointer while being defended by Eastern Brown's Mikayla Farris, Saturday at Logan High School. Farris finished with 13 points, while Binkley totaled 10 points. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Lynchburg-Clay senior Hannah Binkley shoots a 3-pointer while being defended by Eastern Brown's Mikayla Farris, Saturday at Logan High School. Farris finished with 13 points, while Binkley totaled 10 points. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
LOGAN — A very strong quarter by the Eastern Brown Lady Warriors to start the second half against the Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs changed the entire complexion of their Division III Regional Final game Saturday at Logan High School. The Lady Mustangs held an 11-point lead at halftime, but the second half wasn’t as successful for LC.

In those final two quarters, the Lady Mustangs fought hard, but the size and power of the Lady Warriors in the paint, added with their defense forcing LC into miscues in the third frame, was a mixture that caused the Lady Mustangs’ season to come to an end. LC was outscored 15-6 in the third, leading to a 46-42 loss in the Elite 8 game against their Southern Hills Athletic Conference rival.

The loss was the third time this season the Lady Warriors defeated LC, and this time might have been the toughest way to do so as Eastern had to make a second half comeback, not gaining the lead until there was 6:34 left in the fourth quarter, when two points from junior Allison Day left the Lady Warriors in the lead at 34-33.

From there, LC got back to as close as one point to the lead late in the fourth, but a three-point play with 32 seconds left from Morgan Reynolds, then late free throws at the end, were enough to keep LC away from the lead.

Day finished with 12 points for EB, as they had four players reach the scoring column. Leading Eastern were Morgan Reynolds and Mikayla Farris with 13 points each, and Alexa Pennington totaled eight points.

“I just reassured the girls at halftime of what we were doing,” Eastern head coach Kevin Pickerill said following the game. “We got a little rattled late in the second quarter, but I knew if we could stay within reach at halftime, I thought we could make some adjustments.

“I wanted them to believe in themselves, and I wanted them to believe in everyone that was on the floor with them. I said, ‘believe in them because they are not on the same page as you are.’ I thought once we did that, we got the ball to where our strengths are and got the game under control. I said to them, ‘Get the game to a two-possession game to start the fourth, and I think we can wear them down and take over.’”

LC was led in scoring by sophomore Peyton Scott with 19 points. She finished with four two-point baskets, two 3-pointers and was 5-of-6 from the free-throw line, Seniors Hannah and McKayla Binkley each finished with 10 points, and senior Lexi Waits rounded out the scoring with three points, sinking a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the game.

“Scott and the Binkley girls are tough,” Pickerill said. “They had three girls who were scoring, so we focused on the main three.”

LC had great success this season, as they finish with a 23-4 overall record, plus won a sectional championship and a second consecutive district championship.

LC head coach Whitney Lewis was proud of her team and how they played not just this season, but in the regional finals.

“We played a great game,” Lewis said. “The third quarter got to us … we just couldn’t score when we needed to, and they (EB) did. I thought we played great pressure defense … bless my kids, they played so hard, but they were so outmatched when it comes to size. They fought so hard, but we just weren’t able to come out on the offensive side of the ball in the third quarter and that really hurt us.

“We turned the ball over like five times in a row, and they were able to convert.”

The third frame Lewis spoke of saw the Lady Mustangs outscored 15-6, but LC still held a two-point lead at the end of the quarter. In the third, Eastern (26-1) scored the first eight points of the quarter, cutting LC’s advantage to 26-23.

LC scored their first points of the third with a steal and layup by Hannah Binkley, but Eastern answered with a layup from Farris at the 2:55 mark of the quarter. Eastern added more points from a jumper by Pennington, but LC fought back with two free throws by Scott for a 30-27 lead with just under two minutes left in the third.

Eastern’s Day sank a free throw, and a layup by Pennington tied the score at 30 with just under one minute left in the quarter. LC took the lead to end the third with two free throws from Scott with eight-tenths of a second on the third-quarter clock.

In the fourth, LC was outscored 16-10 by their SHAC rival. LC opened the scoring in the fourth with a free throw from Scott, but the Lady Warriors answered with points from Reynolds, Day and Farris to go from trailing by a 33-30 score to leading by a 40-33 score — a 10-0 run — with 2:19 left in regulation.

McKayla Binkley stopped the run with a 3-pointer at the 1:50 mark to make it a four-point deficit for LC, and following a turnover by the Lady Warriors, Scott sank a trey at the 1:10 mark for LC for a 40-39 deficit.

Following a timeout by Eastern, Reynolds converted a three-point play, followed by Day sinking a free throw and Reynolds converting two shots from the free-throw line for a 46-39 lead with 7.5 on the clock. Waits made a 3-pointer with seconds remaining, but Eastern had already sealed the win for a four-point victory over LC.

“It isn’t every day you get to got to the regional finals and fight for a spot in the final four, and it isn’t every day you do that against your arch-rival,” Lewis said. “The hype coming into this game was awesome and we were ready to play. The girls were ready to play in front of this massive crowd, and they deserved to be here. We played two No. 1 seeded teams and thought we were going to pull it out but didn’t have enough left in the tank.”

Pickerill said his team had a chip on their shoulder at halftime.

“I told the girls, there are 13 girls and five coaches in here, and we all believe in each other,” Pickerill said. “This game was made of runs and rhythms, and we didn’t have any of that in the first half. We were always behind and were playing faster than we wanted to play. Once we settled down and got a quick stop in the second half, that was enough to give us momentum we needed.”

The first half was a different story for LC, with them leading 13-9 at the end of the first quarter. McKayla Binkley began the game with a 3-pointer, and LC eventually led 7-2 with two jumpers from Scott with 5:52 left in the opening frame.

Eastern scored seven straight points to take a 9-7 lead by the time the scoreboard read 2:26 in the first, but LC had a run of points to end the first frame with McKayla Binkley scoring on two free throws, a 3-pointer from Scott and a free throw from Hannah Binkley for the 13-9 advantage.

In the second frame at Jim Myers Gymnasium, Eastern cut the LC lead to two points with a jumper by Farris, but LC countered with a steal and layup by McKayla Binkley, followed by a layup from Hannah Binkley for a 17-11 lead with 6:04 left in the first half.

As the quarter continued, LC went on a 7-0 run to end the second frame with Hannah Binkley sinking two free throws and a 3-pointer, plus a layup by Scott for the aforementioned 26-15 halftime lead.

For the game, Eastern was 12-of-20 from the free-throw line, with 17 two-point baskets and no 3-pointers. LC was 10-of-12 from the free-throw line with seven two-point baskets and six 3-pointers.

Seniors playing their final game for LC were Hannah Binkley, McKayla Binkley and Lexi Waits. The two Binkleys each finished their careers as 1,000-plus point scorers, with Hannah being third place all-time in the LC girls basketball program in scoring.

“We are losing three kids who play so hard … they put their heart and soul into every single game, and that is probably the hardest thing is they are not coming back next year,” Lewis said. “They’ve had amazing careers. They are good at basketball, but they are even better people. When someone like that is a part of your program, it is hard to say goodbye and makes it tough.”

Eastern will play in the Division III State Semifinals on Friday, March 17 at 3 p.m. when they face Versailles at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus. Also playing in the State Final Four will be Gilmour Academy and Africentric Early College.