HARROD – With losing 10 seniors from last year’s squad, the Allen East girls basketball team is trying to fill many voids this season.
The only senior on this year’s Allen East’s roster is 5-foot, 11-inch forward Tori Newland.
In Monday’s nonconference game with visiting Perry, Newland displayed her leadership by leading Allen East to a 59-52 victory over the Commodores.
Newland led all scorers with 32 points. She also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, while coming away with four steals at the defensive end.
With the victory, Allen East improves to 3-9 overall. Perry slips to 4-10.
After Allen East pulled out – to what seemed like a comfortable 18-3 lead by the end of the first quarter – Perry started to work its way back into the game.
By the fourth quarter, Allen East found itself fighting off the Commodores for the victory.
“They fought back really hard,” Allen East assistant coach Eric Newland said. “We did have some mistakes, but we’re a young team. I was concerned there, towards the end. But free throws won it for us down the stretch, and the freshmen came through for us.”
Tori Newland is coach Newland’s daughter.
Allen East head coach Dana Koontz was ill, and was unable to be on the bench Monday night.
The freshman that really stood out for Allen East Monday was Elle Richardson, who had 12 points and three steals. Richardson scored 10 of those points in the first quarter.
“Elle Richardson played a really good game,” Coach Newland said. “She complimented Tori, who played a good game. A lot of them did a lot of good things. I think we’re going to get better. … We’re improving.”
Another freshman that made key contributions for Allen East Monday was Kennedy Truex, a 5-6 guard. Truex had nine points and eight rebounds.
Tia Barfield led Perry with 26 points and five steals. Teammate Zierre Thompson came off the bench and scored 11 points.
Allen East claimed the early lead.
Newland scored four of Allen East’s first six points of the game, as the Mustangs jumped out to a 6-1 advantage.
The Commodores missed their first nine field goal attempts, before Barfield finally cashed in down low, to cut the Allen East lead to 3, 6-3.
Allen East began to push the pace.
The Mustangs closed out the first quarter on a 12-0 run to claim an 18-3 lead by the first stop.
Richardson came on strong in the latter part of the first quarter to lead the Mustangs with 10 first-quarter points. Newland scored the other eight markers for Allen East.
Perry was just 1 of 12 from the field in the first eight minutes of action.
In the second period, Perry was able to slow the Mustangs down a little.
However, the Commodores’ shooting woes continued as they were just 3 of 10 from the floor.
The Mustangs took a 29-13 lead into the locker room at the halftime break.
Newland ended the first half with 15 points and eight rebounds. Barfield led Perry in the first half with nine points and three steals.
Allen East dominated the boards in the first half, 27-12. For the game, the Mustangs controlled the boards, 43-24.
Perry started to force Allen East into some turnovers in the second half.
The Commodores cut the deficit to 10, 42-32 by the end of the third quarter.
The Commodores started to find their range as they connected three times behind the 3-point line.
Barfield scored seven points in the third stanza for Perry.
For the game, Allen East turned the ball over 29 times. Perry turned it over 22 times.
“We went into the locker room with 12 turnovers, or something like that,” Coach Newland said. “Turnovers seem to be plaguing us pretty hard this year. … Again, it comes back to having young players. We don’t have an expert ball handler or point guard. So, we have to kind of share that role.”
The Commodores kept coming in the final quarter.
Perry quickly cut it to 8, 42-34 on a steal and layup by Lily Floyd (six points, three assists) at the 7:35 mark.
Moments later, Barfield made a steal and took it all the way in for an easy layup to cut it to 6, 42-36.
Every time Allen East made a small run in the fourth quarter, Perry had an answer.
With 3:54 left to play, Thompson made 1 of 2 from the free throw line to cut it to 5, 48-43.
Barfield hit a field goal from the left wing with 3:20 left in regulation, to cut it to 3, 48-45.