Eboni Simpson works through Jackson Academy defenders in the Lady Eagles’ 32-26 win. Simpson hit a crucial 3-point shot down the stretch to extend the Ellwood lead. -- Robert Hudson

Lady Eagles heating up

Published 9:54pm Saturday, February 4, 2012

A fourth-quarter offensive push and tough defense helped the Ellwood Lady Eagles defeat Jackson Academy 36-26 Saturday at home in AISA regional tournament play.

Lady Eagles’ head coach Towanna Clay said her team never gave up on its way to victory.

“It feels good to get our second victory,” Clay said. “It took a lot of perseverance, first of all. The girls were able to hold on and get the win.”

After losing their lead early in the third quarter, Ellwood (2-17) found itself trailing 20-19 with 6:38 left in the game.

The Lady Eagles’ got a big break when Gabryelle Dunning stole the Jackson Academy inbounds pass and laid it in to give Ellwood a 21-20 lead with 6:26 left to play.

The Lady Eagles forced another Jackson turnover and Eboni Simpson hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 24-20 with 5:57 left.

Both teams were in the bonus and exchanged trips to the free throw line to make it 25-22 with 3:42 left.

Just as Jackson’s last trip to the line brought them within three points, Ellwood’s Asia Bufford scored in the paint to push the lead to 27-22.

Ellwood went five-for-six from the line, as Jackson was forced to foul with time running out down the stretch.

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