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NORCROSS (GA) – McEachern and Woodward Academy both had short turnarounds from a previous region game but the Indians handled it the best.
In the first game of the Full Court Press Hoops Southern Showcase, Chance Moore (29 points, 11 rebounds) and fellow senior Camron McDowell (23 points) helped McEachern jump ahead of Woodward early and hold on for a 74-64 non-region win at Norcross High on January 16.
Seniors Will Richard and Logan Stephens had equally impressive performances for the War Eagles (9-4) with Richard collecting 30 points and 11 boards and Stephens adding 20 points.
After dropping a close game to Pebblebrook the previous day, the Indians’ focus was much sharper at the start of the contest compared to Woodward, which won its previous game. The Indians (16-4) initially created some separation on the scoreboard midway through the first quarter when Moore found McDowell for a 3-pointer. Then McDowell passed to Josh Hayes for a jumper and followed that up with steal and breakaway layin for an 18-8 lead.
A few plays later, Hayes capped the 11-0 run with a putback dunk for a 22-8 advantage but Richard got the War Eagles into double digits at the buzzer with a deep 3-pointer.
In the second quarter, Richard and Stephens got Woodward’s offense going but McDowell kept McEachern out of a drought as well, resulting in 42-32 halftime score.
“We had a tough game last night so we were curious to see how we would come back from that and we did a good job,” McEachern coach Mike Thompson said. “The kids moved the ball around on offense and the defense was okay except for maybe in the second quarter. It’s tough to come back this early after playing Friday night but we probably moved the ball as good as we have all year long. That was a good win for us. We needed that.”
“I’m proud of our effort and toughness today,” Woodward coach Anthony Thomas said. “We played a tough region game last night then came back to play one of the best teams in the state on a Saturday. That was a good test for us. I wanted to see if the boys would compete and they did. You never like losing but I felt like we competed all the way through and that is what is important.”
Thanks mostly to Richard, the War Eagles kept chipping away in the third but the Indians continued to have an answer whether it was Moore, McDowell or junior Braden Sparks, who finished with nine points and four assists.
“They are very talented and shot the ball very well,” said Thomas of McEachern. “We had a couple of lapses as far as our defensive rotations are concerned. I think we were kind of hesitant initially but once we were able to settle down and get into a rhythm we were able to get back into the game. In the second half, it came down to who was going to make plays down the stretch and unfortunately we didn’t execute as well as we wanted to but I thought we were much better than we’ve been over the last couple of weeks.”
In the fourth, McEachern had its lead cut to a basket twice but Moore, who is committed to Arkansas, responded with a jumper and a three-point play on both instances for a 67-62 score with 3:22 left in the game.
“Chance is a solid player, a great outside shooter,” Thompson said. “The best thing about him is whatever your team needs him to do he does that to win a game. If that means go get an offensive rebound he does it or a defensive rebound he can do that and he’s very versatile in what he can do.”
(Moore gave McEachern multiple second chances at scoring with his offensive rebounding which also led to some of his 12 trips to the free-throw line, where he sank nine shots.)
During the closing minutes, the Indians negated any chance of a comeback by protecting the ball and nailing their free throws.