Not much could’ve prepared Class A No. 7 Lincoln Pius X for the show that No. 5 Lincoln East put on in the final of the Early Bird Classic on Saturday afternoon at East High School.
A combination of an overwhelming full-court press and a blistering pace on offense gave the Spartans (2-0) an early double-digit lead that they built on throughout the game as they strolled to a 57-30 girls basketball victory over the Thunderbolts (1-1).
“We wanted to press them and we talked at halftime about stepping it up a notch, and you saw that out there in the second half,” East coach Dennis Prichard said. “I wish everything was that easy. You tell them to do that and they do it, but we did a great job on the press today.”
The Spartans held a 10-point lead, 25-15, at halftime before opening the second half on an 11-0 run behind their daunting full-court press that stifled the Pius X offense at every turn.
The press led to a quick-paced half-court offense for East that seemed to be able to score at any moment from any source. The Spartans had 10 players finish in the scoring column, led by Regan Sankey's game-high 22 points. She scored 14 of those points in the second half as the Spartan lead ballooned to 30 points.
“It’s easy to think we’re going to run everything through Sankey, she’s so good, but we know that teams will be keying on her,” Prichard said. “We talk about it all the time that other girls need to be able to step up, so the girls did a great job of sharing the ball today.”
The East defense held Pius X to 15 points in each half, including three quarters of single-digit scoring. No Pius X player finished in double digits, but eight different Bolts did score.
“They put it to us right from the beginning of the game,” Pius X coach Bill Rice said. “We didn’t respond at all, and that’s disappointing. They got us completely out of sync and we played without composure. It was kind of a typical early-season game, but it shows we need to grow quite a bit.”
Kloee Sander led the Bolts with nine points.