By Wade Linville –
The Eastern Warriors upped their winning streak to five games by topping the Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington Blue Jays 59-48 on Jan. 30 at Eastern High School.
The Jan. 30 win marked the Warriors’ second win over the Blue Jays this season after defeating them at Ripley the first time they faced, completing their sweep of the Jays in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play to up their conference record to 5-4 on the season.
As of Feb. 1, the West Union Dragons were leading the way in the SHAC big school division with a conference record of 8-2, while the tight battle continues with Ripley, Eastern, and Lynchburg-Clay all with four losses in conference play.
“They’re scary,” Beucler said the Ripley varsity boys basketball squad following Tuesday’s league win. “I know they’re athletic. They shoot the ball well. He (Ripley coach Rex Woodward) went small tonight (and) played a zone (defense). Our kids didn’t react real well with it (zone defense) early and went two-for-five from the three and went five-for-seven in the second half.”
“The kids played hard at the end,” Beucler said of his Warriors. “I was pleased to see the kids hold together.”
“I thought our intensity picked up in the second half.”
The Warriors would lead by as much as 18 in the second half, but the Jays would rally late to cut the lead to single digits. The Warriors were able to hold on through the Ripley rally to come away with the 11-point victory.
Although the Warriors have made significant strides toward improvement since the start of their 2017-18 court campaign, Eastern varsity boys basketball coach Rob Beucler said there is still much work to be done.
“We just have to keep working and learning how to read things, and we’re getting better at that,” said Beucler. “The kids, I think, love each other and they work hard. They’re buying in, and they understand that they’re all part of this. They’re playing hard, and that’s what we want. If they keep playing hard, they’ll do good things.”
Eastern led the Jays 26-22 at halftime before upping their lead to double-figures in the second half of play.
Eastern senior Garyn Purdy and junior Marcus Hamilton combined for 31 points to lead the Warriors in scoring in the win over the Jays. Hamilton led Eastern scorers with 16 points, while Purdy finished with 15 points.
Eastern freshman Colton Vaughn contributed with seven points, while sophomore teammate Titus Burns ended the night with five points.
Eastern’s Dare Minton shot for four points in the Jan. 30 win, and rounding out Eastern’s scoring were T.J. Stivers and Gage Boone with three points apiece.
Leading Ripley scorers in the Jan. 30 contest at Eastern was sophomore Peyton Fyffe with 11 points, while junior teammate Jaki Royal finished with 10 points.
Ripley junior Landon Rigdon ended the night with nine points.
Ripley senior Ryan Harney shot for six points in the Jays’ Jan. 30 loss to Eastern.
Ripley junior Landon Dearing finished with five points, while sophomore teammate Nigel Royal buried a three-pointer in the contest to finish with three points. Rounding out Ripley’s scoring were Alex King and Josiah Staggs with two points each.
The Warriors were scheduled to be back in action Feb. 2 in a road game against the Fayetteville-Perry Rockets who defeated the Ripley Blue Jays 58-38 in an SHAC bout on Jan. 26.
The Warriors will host Georgetown for a non-league contest on Feb. 3, and they will venture to Peebles High School to face the Indians in an SHAC contest on Feb. 6.
The Jays were scheduled to take on Augusta, KY in a non-league game on Feb. 2, and on Feb. 9 they will venture to Fairfield (Leesburg) to face the Lions.
The Jays dropped to a 6-4 record in SHAC play and an overall record of 11-6 with the Jan. 30 loss at Eastern.