By JOEL COLEMAN
ACKERMAN – A double-double apiece from Ackerman's Carmen Long and Andrea Cutts caused double the trouble for Eupora Tuesday night.
Long scored 15 points, Cutts added 12 and both Long and Cutts hauled in 10 rebounds each to guide the homestanding Lady Indians past the Lady Eagles 46-37.
"They played well," said Ackerman head coach Gary Beals of his senior duo. "We're at our best that way. When (Long and Cutts) are on, that makes Iasia Lee a lot better."
Lee, who scored 13 points for Ackerman, was the primary beneficiary of Eupora's defensive attention which was often centered on guarding Long and Cutts.
"Teams have to double (Long and Cutts) and worry about where they are at and (Lee) is able to get some points, which she did tonight under the basket," said Beals.
The play of Long, Cutts and Lee sparked the Lady Indians from the offset as Ackerman built a 10-2 advantage after the first quarter.
The Lady Indians (6-7, 0-2 in Region 4-2A) faltered a bit in the second quarter, but still carried a 17-12 lead into halftime before getting the lead back up to eight points at 29-21 entering the fourth quarter.
That's when the Lady Eagles made a strong bid at a comeback attempt.
When Jaliyaah Patterson sank a basket with 2:17 left to play, it capped a 14-6 run for Eupora that tied the contest at 35.
The Lady Eagles (3-10, 0-2 in Region 4-2A) couldn't keep the momentum going however, scoring just two points the rest of the way as Ackerman pulled away, thanks in large part to Long and Cutts going a combined 7-of-8 from the free-throw line down the stretch.
"We just made too many turnovers," said Eupora head coach Curtis Ford. "That's been our history all year. We played pretty good defense at times, but we don't block out well and then we turn the ball over entirely too much."
Raishawnda Brantley led Eupora with 24 points.
Patterson finished with nine for the Lady Eagles.
Brantley, who as Eupora's lone senior carries much of the load for the Lady Eagles, had an "off night" according to Ford, a factor that contributed to Eupora's defeat.
"She was forcing off too many shots and wasn't under control," said Ford. "If she doesn't score, we have problems."
Eupora's difficulties proved to be Ackerman's gain.
"We communicated well tonight," said Long. "We played as a team. We still have a lot to work on, but it feels good to beat our rival."
ACKERMAN - A dominating first quarter sparked Eupora to a win on the road at Ackerman Tuesday night.
After baskets by Ackerman's Matthew Davis and Lavonte Miller gave the Indians a quick 5-0 lead shortly after the opening tip, Eupora closed the first quarter by scoring 25 unanswered points.
The Eagles stretched their run to 29 unanswered in the early moments of the second quarter before Ackerman's Quincy Cole sank a pair of free throws to finally cool off Eupora.
"We don't understand that everybody else is a little bit faster and a little bigger than us, so other teams attack us right out of the start and try and get our brow down," said Beals. "But we came back, persevered and played hard."
After the first quarter, the Indians outscored the Eagles 48-36 the rest of the way.
Ford said his Eupora squad struggled over the final three periods, in part, due to the team's new dynamic.
Academics and other issues have caused several members of Ford's team to be dismissed from the club, causing team chemistry to be uprooted midseason.
"We did real good early and got me optimistic and then they quit on me," said Ford. "Not having any subs, I think that kind of caught up with us."
Still, Eupora (5-8, 0-2 in Region 4-2A) was able to persevere, thanks in large part to the trio of Jeremy Wright, Deshawn Starks and Devin Culpepper.
Wright scored 21 points, Starks added 19 and Culpepper tallied 15 to pace the Eagles.
Ackerman (2-11, 0-2 in Region 4-2A) was led in scoring by Miller, who scored 17 points and earned plenty of postgame praise from his coach.
"I can't speak highly enough of him," said Beals. "He made some mistakes, but that's one of the best efforts he's had. He really got after it."
While Miller shined, it wasn't enough to get past Ford's new-look Eagles.
"Give us a couple of games and I think we'll be even better," said Ford.