ALEXANDRIA — It may take a full four quarters to make a basketball game, but Eastern showed you can get the job done in just one during its Class 2A Sectional 39 opener with Sheridan Wednesday night.
Tied at 19-all two quarters in, the Comets busted out of the locker room on fire to start the second half, outscoring the Blackhawks 24-6 in the third frame to go up 43-25 and cruising to a 52-33 win.
Eastern (4-17) advances to face Madison-Grant (9-12), a 55-49 winner over Elwood in OT Wednesday, in Friday’s second semifinal. Tipton and Taylor square off in the first semifinal. The Comets and Argylls didn’t meet in the regular season.
Eastern blistered the nets at a 77 percent clip (10 of 13) in the third quarter on the way to the 18-point advantage heading into the final frame, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc in the period.
“Couldn’t have asked for a better third quarter,” Eastern coach Mike Springer said. “We stressed at half time that we needed to win the third quarter and win it big. We called some plays for Noah [Cope] to get a three to start the half and he did. We hit some big shots and turned the tide our way.”
Cope, who finished with 15 points to lead Eastern, connected from downtown just 12 seconds into the second half and when Sheridan’s Brock Kitchel answered with one at the other end, the Comet junior did it again, putting his squad up for good, 25-22, at 7:19.
Eastern strung together an 18-3 run to close out the period, its lead swelling to double digits, 34-24, on Blake Shrader’s trey at 3:24 and continuing to climb to the 18-point margin heading into the final eight minutes.
Comparatively, Sheridan (3-18) shot just 2 of 15 in the period and finished the second half shooting just 14 percent (3 of 21) from the field.