Lady Warriors get hyped up for state tournament –
By Wade Linville –
“We’re not going to no gym to be a participant, we’re going to win it,” were among Eastern girls basketball head coach Kevin Pickerill’s final words while addressing the large crowd of fans during Wednesday’s pep rally at Eastern High School, all there to show their support for the Lady Warriors before they headed out on Friday to compete in the OHSAA Division III State Tournament.
Not only was the pep rally to help hype-up the Lady Warriors for their state semifinal bout against No. 6 ranked Versailles on March 17, but also to help raise funds to cover the expenses involved in the team’s trip to the state tourney.
Several items were auctioned off with the first Lady Warrior canvas pick from the regional tournament at Logan selling for $375, while some baked goods and a signed basketball went for $300 or more.
Lady Warrior Final Four T-shirts and fan wear were also sold. Some members of the Eastern girls varsity squad drew laughs from the crowd while giving their imitations of coach Pickerill.
This marks Pickerill’s third year as head coach of the Eastern varsity girls program, and his Lady Warriors’ impressive post-season tourney run has earned him not only Associated Press Southeast District Coach of the Year honors and Southern Hills Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors, but he has also recently been named by the Associated Press as the All-Ohio Division III Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.
Eastern’s 6’1” junior Allison Day was recently named the SHAC Player of the Year while also receiving honors that include Associated Press SE District Division III First Team and All-Ohio Division III Second Team.
Eastern’s 6’0” sophomore Alexa Pennington, in addition to SHAC All-Conference Team, has been named an All-Ohio Division III Honorable Mention, as well as being named to the Associated Press’ SE District Division III Second Team.
Eastern’s 6’0” junior Mikayla Farris, in addition to SHAC All-Conference honors, has been named to the Associated Press SE District Division III Third Team.
Also named to the SHAC All-Conference Team was Eastern’s junior guard Whitney Broughton.
The Lady Warriors stood at a 26-1 overall record after topping the Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs 46-42 in the regional championship game at Logan High School, March 11.
It was a regional finals bout that saw the Lady Warriors rally back from a 26-15 halftime deficit to pull off the four-point victory, marking their third win over the skilled squad of Lynchburg-Clay this year, defeating them twice in league play during the regular season to finish with a perfect 13-0 conference record and earn the SHAC Gold Ball.
“We’re playing good basketball, you guys want to see good basketball (same as me), and I want to coach good basketball,” Pickerill said to the crowd during Wednesday’s pep rally.
It was 2002 when an Eastern varsity girls basketball team last made it so far in post-season tournament play, a team that finished in the Division III Final Four under the leadership of long-time coach Richard Kiser.
One could expect Pickerill and his Lady Warriors to enter state tourney play motivated, confident, and ready to do battle.
“The girls are very excited. We’re going to give you all we can give you this Friday night,” said Pickerill. “I told the girls, ‘You go into this game on Friday (and) you rip, you claw, you beat, you hack, you sweat, you bleed…you do whatever it takes to get to that championship game on Saturday.”
Regardless of the outcome of the state tourney, this year’s Lady Warriors can hold their heads high, knowing that they have made their school district and their community proud, representing all of Brown County basketball in superb fashion.
The winner of the March 17 state semifinal game between Eastern and Versailles moved on to face the winner of the state semifinal contest between No. 10 ranked Gilmour Academy (21-5) and No. 4 ranked Africentric Early College (24-3).