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East girls roll into regionals

A couple of weeks ago, East Davidson’s girls were mired in a mud puddle in the middle of the Central Carolina Conference.

Now, the Eagles are headed to the 2-A regionals.

East put together a huge second half and rallied for a 50-40 victory at Cuthbertson in the third round of the 2-A state playoffs Friday. The Eagles (20-9) will play in the regional semifinals at UNC Greensboro’s Fleming Gym on Wednesday; pairings and game times will be announced Monday.

Down 20-17 at the half, East coach Don Corry challenged his players in the locker room. “We had to pick up our defense, and be a little bit more patient with the basketball,” Corry said. “We were nervous again at the start; made some bad passes, tried to force some passes. And we were taking shots way too quick.

“We talked about what we’ve been doing the last four games, and that’s what we had to do. Come out and do the same things we’ve been doing.”

Doing those things have translated into a nice little win streak at just the right time. East, the No. 3 seed from the CCC heading into the conference tournament last week, reeled off three wins last week to win the tournament, then kept it going in the playoffs.

This week has included an amazing win Wednesday over High Point Andrews, which had only lost once this season.

And no one could blame the Eagles for being a little nervous in the early going. A pair of freshmen — point guard Madi Hallman and center Bayley Plummer — are two of the Eagles’ go-to players, and they have never been in situations this big before.

Coming out of the locker room, East did all of the things Corry talked about. That eventually led to Jordan Isom’s free throw to tie things up in the third quarter, then her bucket to take the lead.

Right after that, Cuthbertson tried to settle things down with a timeout. “During the timeout we talked about getting a stop then coming down and getting another basket,” Corry explained. “And we did. That gave us a five-point lead, and it just kind of stayed that way the rest of the game.”

Plummer led the Eagles with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Jennifer Welborn had a huge night with 11 points and seven rebounds. Lori Morgan added 10 points, and Corry credited Morgan and Hallman with game-changing defense on the Cuthbertson guards in the second half.