Eastern Comes Up Short in LIT Quarterfinals

The Eagles’ run in the LIT ended with a 73-56 loss to No. 5 Ryle in the quarterfinals Friday night. The duo of Maddie Scherr and Lauren Schwartz fueled the Lady Raiders to victory, scoring 24 and 17 points respectively.

“They’re good,” said Eastern head coach Josh Leslie. “Those two (Scherr and Schwartz) are probably the best one-two punch we’ve seen. And we’ve seen some good teams. And they both played well.”

The Raiders jumped out to an early lead on the strength of five three-pointers in the first quarter. The Eagles quickly fell behind 25-13, and Ryle thwarted any attempt to mount a comeback.

“We gave up five threes in the first quarter and dug ourselves a hole,” said Leslie. “We would get to that 12-point range, but we just couldn’t get two stop and two baskets. They’re good. I don’t feel terrible about it because they’re a legit state championship contender.”

Joining Scherr and Schwartz in double figures were Brie Crittendon with eleven, and Jaiden Douthit finished with ten. The Raiders shot 52 percent for the game.

“It was a nice change that we needed,” said Ryle head coach Katie Haitz. “It wasn’t just Maddie and Lauren scoring. There were four people scoring and that is a great night for us. I was really pleased with how they played tonight as a team.”

Eastern was unable to pull within single digits in the second half. The closest the Eagles came was ten late in the third quarter, but Ryle answered with four straight points to push its lead back to 14.

Mikayla Kinnard led the way for Eastern with a team-high 19 points and six rebounds. She scored eleven straight for the Eagles over four minutes in the second and third quarter. Jayden Townsend scored ten points, and Kiara Pearl tallied nine points.

Remarkably, the Eagles have played just one true home game all season, way back in late November, the second game of the year. They get some relief down the stretch, as four of their final five regular season games are in their home gym.

“Two home games this week,” said Leslie with a laugh. “And then the following week two more home games. Hopefully, we get some legs back under us.”

With the win, Ryle (19-4) improved to 2-1 this year against teams from the seventh region. The Raiders defeated Male on a neutral floor, but loss at Sacred Heart two weeks ago.

“This is the first time we’ve been here (playing in the LIT),” said Haitz. “I love the competition. I love playing teams out of our region. It allows us to know where we’re at, what we need to work on, what we’re doing well at. So, I’m really happy to be here.”