AE win streak stretches to four
Lady Eagles ready for showdown of last two undefeated NSL teams
ARENAC EASTERN - Dec. 16, 2008 - Arenac Eastern's girls basketball team proved Tuesday it's the real deal, overcoming an early 10-point deficit to hand Hillman its first defeat of the season 54-40.
The Eagles hadn't been challenged in their first three games, but the Tigers' full court press gave AE problems early. Three Eastern turnovers, 3-pointer by Maci Schook and Marissa Banks, and two more baskets boosted Hillman to a 10-0 lead less than two minutes into the contest.
"We came out nervous," said Arenac Eastern coach Butch Beckham. "I figured we might struggle a bit at the start but I didn't expect to be down 10-0.
"The girls didn't lose composure. They played great defense, worked hard and hustled and took control of the tempo."
Marcy Langstaff's free throws put the Eagles on the scoreboard, and after cutting the margin to 12-5, Chelsea Dery scored on four consecutive perfectly-executed pick-and-roll plays to give the Eagles a 13-12 lead with three minutes still to go in the first quarter.
Hillman never led again, though the Tigers tied it twice more in the first half.
The Eagles clamped down on defense, stayed patient on offense, and if Chelsea Dery wasn't scoring two of her 28 points on yet another pick and roll, Briana Dery or Maddie Nelson was knocking down the offensive rebound.
AE led 27-25 at the break, pulled away to a 40-31 lead after three quarters and never led by less than eight the rest of the way.
"The kids have bought in to what we're doing," Beckham said. "They could have fallen apart when things got rough early, but they didn't. They knew they would get pressed and Hillman would try to force them into a running game, but they didn't fall for that.
"I couldn't be happier."
Nelson added 11 points for the Eagles. Schook led a balanced Hillman (3-1, 2-1) attack with 11.
The road doesn't get any easier for the Eagles (4-0, 3-0 NSL), who travel to Posen (4-1, 3-0) for a face-off between the last two teams unbeaten in North Star League play.