ECI girls advance to “Sweet 16”

by | March 1, 2011 10:20 am

By: CHRIS LEWIS

   The Lady Bulldogs of ECI handily defeated Pelham High School Friday to advance to the second round of the GHSA Class A state basketball playoffs. Although considered by many to be the underdog in this matchup, the Bulldogs looked anything but and rolled to a 62-46 win over the Region 1A champs on the road.

   The Bulldogs jumped out to a 15-3 lead at the conclusion of the first quarter and led 40-22 late in the third before Pelham made a run. The Hornets closed to within 49-44 midway through the fourth, but ECI kicked it in gear again and outscored Pelham 13-2 down the stretch to secure the 16-point margin of victory.

   Senior guard Tekerra Branch led ECI in scoring with 21 points. Ashanna Steele continued to build upon her incredible freshman season by contributing 17 points. Erin Dixon rebounded from an ankle injury suffered in last weekends’ region tournament by scoring 10 points in the victory.

   D’Ambria Thomas, Pelham’s standout senior guard, led the Hornets with 24 points. The Bulldogs turned up the intensity on defense, allowing a Pelham team who had averaged over 58 points a contest in their last seven games to a total of 46 on the night.

   “Going into the game, we were aware of the fine team they had, especially their highly touted point guard,” stated ECI Head Coach Melissa Carlyle. “She (Thomas) played a brilliant game. Our goal was to try and contain her. We have been putting a lot of emphasis on defense the past few weeks and I think the girls are beginning to buy into the team defense concept. Our effort tonight was a good indication of that.”

   The Bulldogs (19-5) will now travel to Rochelle to face Wilcox County (18-6). The game will be played Tuesday, March 1 at 7 p.m. 

   “We have to continue playing well on both ends of the floor,” commented Carlyle. “Traveling to Wilcox Tuesday will require this type of effort.”

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