ST. PETERSBURG — East Lake’s offense just couldn’t find a rhythm. Plagued by poor shooting and turnovers, the Eagles trailed Mount Dora Bible throughout the first half Wednesday at the Suncoast Classic. In the second half, East Lake used team speed and free-throw shooting to take the lead and pull away for a 41-29 victory.
“Winning this tournament is big for our program,” Eagles coach Steve Plummer said. “We haven’t done this a lot and this is a big confidence builder.”
The Bulldogs and Eagles were tied at 9 at the end of the first quarter but in the second quarter Mount Dora held East Lake to only four points to take a 16-13 lead at halftime.
“Marlyce Meredith did get us going in the first half, and we wish we could have gotten her to make more shots,” Plummer said. “We just didn’t play well.”
To start the third quarter the Eagles switched from man-to-man to halfcourt trap and it paid immediate dividends. The Bulldogs had trouble getting into their offense, and the Eagles outscored them 12-4 in the quarter to take a lead they would never relinquish.
Tournament MVP Amber Jennings led the Eagles with 16 points, going 12-for-12 from the free-throw line, and pulled down seven rebounds. Meredith scored 12 before fouling out and also made the all-tournament team.
“(Jennings) is an amazing player and is a ninth-grader that plays like a veteran,” Plummer said. “(Meredith) is a delight to coach. She listens and is a good leader on the floor.”
In the third-place game Seminole defeated Keswick Christian 37-34.
All-Tournament team members included: Michelle Hudyn, Eastwood Collegiate Institute; Sarah Trill, Keswick Christian; Lauren Kilts and Adaeze Uche, Mount Dora Bible; Maggie Bender and Nikki Pastor; St. John Neumann; Kelsey Geraghty and Katie Gibbons, Seminole.