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Eastside claims county championship

The Lady Bulldogs are going to be partying at a skating rink very soon. Sarah Kate Winfree made sure of it Friday night. Winfree wrapped up a dominant run through elementary basketball this season with a 35-point performance to lead Eastside to a 49-29 victory over Hickory Creek in the championship game.

Eastside coach Kyle Cannon made a deal with his team that if they won the county championship, he would take the group on a skating party and dinner at a Mexican restaurant. After Friday’s final blowout victory, which closed out an 11-0 perfect season for the Lady Bulldogs, their coach will gladly pay up on his promise.

“We’re going to wait until after Thanksgiving, but we’re going to do it,” said Cannon about the pledge. “I am so proud of them. The girls have improved so much this year and they all did their job tonight. Every single girl stepped up and did what was asked of them.”

Friday’s matchup was supposed to be a showcase of the county’s top unbeaten teams – Hickory Creek also entered the game 10-0 after winning the District 1 championship Tuesday. As it’s been all year though, it turned into a personal highlight reel for elementary basketball’s most unstoppable scorer.

Winfree simply wouldn’t be denied, even by a tenacious Hickory Creek defense that had allowed just 9.7 points per game in the regular season. Sarah Kate had that, and much more, by halftime.

Winfree scored 19 of her team’s first 21 points, showing off her relentless pursuit of getting into the paint. Any crack Sarah Kate could spot in the Hickory Creek defense, or when an opportunity popped up to turn defense into instant offense on the break, the Lady Bulldog point guard was taking it.

The only thing that slowed down Winfree was foul trouble – she picked up her third foul before halftime and had to hand over the reins of the offense late. It was no issue though for the Lady Bulldogs.

Zoi Radny added two late baskets and Avery Bouldin closed out the half with a layup as Eastside led 27-12 at the break.

Winfree was back blowing by any defense the Lady Hawks threw at her in the second half. She was able to rack up 16 more points in the second half, securing a new season-best scoring mark as Eastside ran away with the victory.

As big as Winfree’s scoring punch was in the victory, coach Cannon was just as impressed with his team’s ability to limit the high-scoring Lady Hawks.

“We knew Hickory Creek has some great outside shooters and our girls played great defense against them,” said Cannon.

Hickory Creek’s dynamic duo of Kinsley Simpson and Maelee Turner went out swinging in the championship game. Simpson finished with 14 points, including draining two 3-pointers as she tried to keep the Lady Hawks within striking distance. Turner added six points, while Sloan Youngblood scored four. Rounding out Hickory Creek’s scoring was Adasha Haswell and Harper Patrick with two points each and Izzy Geesling with one.

Radny finished with eight and Bouldin chipped in six for the Lady Bulldogs in the title tilt.

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