Easton 72 — Pocomoke 18

EASTON — Last season’s Bayside Conference-championship team was arguably the best in Matt Griffith’s tenure as Easton High’s girls’ head basketball coach.

The Warriors certainly have the talent and intangibles to equal or better last season, but if Friday night was any indication, this is the deepest team Griffith has ever had.

Easton jumped to a 25-0 lead, had four players score in double figures, got 20 points from its bench, and allowed just three second-half points en route to a 72-18 season-opening victory over Pocomoke that left Griffith with plenty of reasons to smile.

“I was proud of all of them tonight,” Griffith said, “Four freshmen got to play. Twelve of the 13 (players) scored. And I think some of the younger girls bring some more athleticism to our team, which is going to help us tremendously. We’ve never been this deep.”

Behind its harassing press, Easton needed a little more than 4 minutes to build an overwhelming 25-0 lead, and kept Pocomoke off the board until 3:42 remained in the first period when Teirra Thomas (game-high 15 points) drained a short set shot from the right wing.

“We’ve been working on defense a lot,” said Easton senior Myia Jeter, who finished with 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds. “We’re a strong believer in defense wins games. So we’re trying to stay big, read passing lanes, trying to get into passing lanes. Rebounding. That’s been our main focus right now is rebounding.”

Another preseason focus has been creating turnovers. With junior guard Lily Osborne (13 points, three steals) seemingly everywhere, Easton totaled 15 steals and 18 deflections in the first half.

“Defense is one of the most important things in the game and it transfers into our offense,” Osborne said. “Anything I do, or someone else does I think comes from teamwork. We want to be fast and have fastbreaks because that’s what we work to do.”

Osborne scored off the opening tip, then collected a turnover and glided in for a layup for a quick 4-0 lead, that ballooned to 31-7 entering the second quarter.

“Our defense is what sets the tone for us,” Griffith said. “That starts our offense 90 percent of the time. That’s what we practice. If we can play defense and take away what the other team likes to do the most, we feel we can be successful with it.

“Tonight, the start we got out to was insane,” Griffith added. “I couldn’t be happier with how they were running the floor, getting in the passing lanes.”

And diving after loose balls on the floor, and that included Easton’s reserves, who flung themselves on the hardwood as if they were in a one-point playoff game.

“We got some of our younger players lots of minutes tonight, which is only going to help us as we continue to get into the season,” said Griffith, who watched Ashtyn Finney collect four points and six rebounds, and freshman Anissa Wallace add six points, two steals and six deflections. “They all know if they have an opportunity to get minutes, that’s their time to make the most of that opportunity. I tell them all the time, ‘You get one chance to make a first impression. What are you going to do? How are you going to act when you get out there?’”

Easton went on runs of 9-0 and 11-0 in the second quarter to carry a 55-15 lead into the locker room.

“I knew we were going to come out hot,” Jeter said. “But I didn’t think we were going to come out like that. We moved the ball pretty well. Practice the past few days has been good in the half-court offense. Defense has been doing well. Our presses have been doing well. But there’s still room for improvement.”

Griffith touched on his team’s 7-for-18 performance from the foul line as something that needs work, but overall was pleased with a balanced attack that included senior Emily Griffith netting a team-high 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals, and junior Abby Farr canning a pair of 3-pointers as part of her 10-point, three-assist performance.

Easton stretched its lead to 64-15 in the third quarter, and held Pocomoke without a field goal until Emma Merritt scored with 34 seconds remaining in the game.

N. Caroline 41, Snow Hill 36

SNOW HILL — Kandice Thomas had 11 points and 11 steals, and Tahlyiah Thomas scored 14 points as the Bulldogs won their season opener.

Camryn Pepper added seven points for North Caroline.

Gunston 39, SSPP 29

EASTON — Sydney Nittle, Julia McClary and Lucy Bumford each scored eight points to lead the Herons.

Hattie Messick led Saints Peter and Paul with 12 points.

Follow me on Twitter @Bill_Haufe. Email me at bhaufe@stardem.com

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