WAYNE — Starting fast has made all the difference for Alana Eves and the Wayne Pioneers.
One night after jumping on the Scott Skyhawks for a 12-point lead after the first quarter (an eventual 65-32 win) the Pioneers led by eight points after one quarter and a baker’s dozen at the half as they picked up their second win in as many nights, 54-38 over the visiting Herbert Hoover Huskies (7-4) in girls high school basketball.
A slow start is what allowed Wayne (8-1) to fall behind by 14 in its only loss of the year last Saturday against North Marion, they never recovered. After gaining an early lead at home Thursday, they never surrendered it.
“If I can get my shots off early in the game I feel a lot more confident the rest of the way,” said Eves, who led all scorers with 25 points. “If I’m scoring then I’m feeling good and that makes a difference.”
Eves hit two 3-point shots in the first quarter, and four of Wayne’s five from downtown Thursday. She scored half of the Pioneers’ 30 first-half points, sinking as many field goals as the rest of her teammates combined.
“She’s starting to shoot the perimeter shot pretty well, something she hasn’t done early on this season, but tonight she had it,” Wayne coach Wade Williamson said. “When she can do that and get in a good rhythm it makes us a whole lot better.”
Eves wouldn’t take the credit though, but rather deferred to her teammates (and other four starters) for getting the offense rolling. Sara Hooks, Jasmine Tabor and Kierston Stroud had three assists apiece and Haley Wallace added two more and that ball movement created plenty of open shots for Eves’ and others.
Leading 46-27 after three quarters, Williamson went with a lineup change at the start of the final frame, giving his starters the rest of the night off — or at least that’s what he planned.
Back-to-back triples from Hoover’s Caroline Woody and Allison Dunbar sparked a Husky run that pulled them back with the halftime margin of 13, a bit of an uncomfortable spot for Williamson, who replaced those players on the floor with the original starting five for the final 90 seconds of the contest.
The Pioneers will rest Friday but will play their third game in four nights when the Gilmer County Titans pay a visit to Wayne on Saturday evening. It’s a tough stretch for Williamson’s squad but one he thinks will prove beneficial moving forward.
“It’ll be a challenge because of the way they play,” he said. “They’re going to press and try and wear us down physically, so it’s tough to go against a team like that when you’re playing your third game in four nights. But if you want to be good you’re going to be in those situations, so we’ll see how we respond.”
HERBERT HOOVER 7 10 10 9 — 38: Ray 16, Woody 6, C. Dunbar 5, A. Dunbar 3, Buckly 3, Harper 2, Geary 2.
WAYNE 15 15 16 8 — 54: Eves 25, Stroud 8, Hood 7, Hooks 6, Wallace 4, Marshall 2, Tabor 2