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Eastern’s McKenzie Cooper dribbles down the court during the Comets’ 56-43 victory over Western on Thursday. Cooper scored a game-high 17 points.

GREENTOWN — In a game of momentum swings in each quarter, Eastern’s girls basketball team struck last and made it stick.

Eastern took control with a 9-0 run in the front half of the fourth quarter, then never allowed Western to get closer than five back as the Comets took a 56-43 victory Thursday night.

“We fought adversity [Thursday] night,” Eastern coach Andy Steele said. “There were times where we could have hung our heads and pouted but we fought through and came away with a really nice victory against a tough team.”

Western led 35-33 on a 3-point play by freshman post player Caroline Long early in the fourth quarter. That’s when Eastern made its move. A free throw by Kaylee Weeks with 7:00 left started Eastern’s 9-0 run. The Comets then got a 3-ball from Kara Otto, a pop-up jumper by Jeanie Crabtree, and a triple from McKenzie Cooper with 5:25 left to go up 42-35.

Eastern had been 1 of 18 from 3-land prior to that run. The Panthers never got closer than two possessions down again.

“That was huge,” Western coach Lisa Pflueger said.

The Comets scored 25 points in the fourth quarter with seven different players notching field goals in that frame.

Cooper scored a game-high 17 points, Weeks and Rylie Davison scored nine and eight respectively off the bench, and defensive menace Jeanie Crabtree added seven points.

“I thought our aggressiveness was good,” Steele said. “Once we got out to kind of a bigger lead in the fourth quarter … when we started pushing tempo a little more that kind of got us in a situation where we can get to the paint, do dump downs for some layups. We were able to get some good screens for Jeanie and Mac to get open. They attacked and knocked down some shots.

“I thought overall it was a great team win for us and hopefully it builds confidence for the rest of the season.”

Cooper took a team-high nine rebounds and Weeks seven for Eastern (2-0).

Western got 11 points and six rebounds from post player Haley Scott, who sparked a third-quarter charge with four blocked shots. Long scored eight points and point guard Morgan Ousley had seven points and 10 rebounds. The Panthers cost themselves at the line, going 11 for 33 on free throws.

Eastern led 14-4 after the first quarter but Western tied the game in the second and trailed just 23-20 at halftime. The Panthers took a 32-31 lead into the final quarter.

That last Eastern run knocked Western out of contention in the Panthers’ season opener after the Panthers had fought back from the early 10-point deficit.

“When those happen you’ve got to respond and offensively we just didn’t respond,” Pflueger said. “I thought early we did. We bounced back [from 14-4 down].

“People have to understand we just played a very good, senior-laden team with basically one senior [on Western’s side] because the other senior was hurt. Those kids are young and they’re trying to figure out a whole new coach and new system. It’s just going to take time.”

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