EDDYVILLE – Tony Fenton was feeling much better prior to tip-off on Tuesday.
The Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont girls basketball head coach was feeling even better when the final buzzer sounded for a much different reason. The Rockets snapped a five-game losing streak on Tuesday with a 52-31 South Central Conference girls basketball win over Albia, giving EBF a win for the first time since the calendar flipped to 2021.
"It was a really defensive game in the first half. Neither team really took the ball to the basket," Fenton said. "We tried to play a little more up-tempo in the third quarter and tried to build on our lead. Albia's a lot better. They don't turn the ball over all the time and you have to guard their 3-point shooters, because they can shoot it."
EBF's first win in just over a month came one day after Fenton returned after battling a fever that kept him sidelined for three days the previous week. Fenton missed EBF's 72-41 loss on Friday to SCC-leading Centerville.
"I feel good now. Once that fever broke (on Saturday), I felt alright," Fenton said. "I'm looking forward to working the next two days and try to knock off Davis County (on Friday)."
Whitney Klyn did a little bit of everything to help end EBF's five-game losing streak. The Rocket sophomore led the way with 12 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and even had a game-high three blocked shots on the defensive end.
"That's probably my favorite thing," Klyn said of her blocks. "Getting assists is also fun. I love getting my teammates involved. It's fun for everybody on the team to get a bunch of points."
Klyn found Emalee Davis after a steal by Lillie Hynick to answer an opening jumper by Albia senior Hallie Hindman before scoring the next four points as EBF took advantage of five early Lady Dee turnovers to open a 6-2 lead. Albia fought back to tie the game at 6-6 after Lexie Jones followed a steal and lay-up by Danica Workman with a game-tying jumper.
"We've been talking about staying confident since our last game (a 53-14 loss Saturday at Pleasantville) and make sure we stay in the game," Albia head coach Katy Dykes said. "The game was a lot closer than the final score indicated. I was proud of the girls. We never let up. I saw a hard-working team that didn't give up. We just couldn't get enough shots to fall."
Klyn finished a six-point opening quarter with a transition basket off a feed from Davis, giving EBF a 13-8 lead. After failing to score for almost six minutes in the second quarter, Klyn found Brooke Shafer for a 3-pointer that kicked off a 9-2 run to close the first half, giving EBF a 22-14 halftime lead.
"We practiced really hard the night before. We were prepared for what they (Albia) were going to do," Klyn said. "We've learned a lot from the losses. We've learned from seeing different types of defenses and discovered ways we can make plays off of them."
Hynick opened the second half with a 3-pointer before finding Rylee German for two more, giving EBF an instant 13-point lead. German finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, scoring on a feed from Davis who would add a runner of her own during a 11-2 start to the third quarter that opened a 33-16 Rocket lead.
Albia, however, refused to go quietly. Hindman drilled a deep shot from the corner before converting free throws following an offensive rebound to kick off a 9-2 close to the quarter.
Allison Major scored four straight points for the Lady Dees on a reverse lay-up and a steal leading to a breakaway. Jenny Kelley closed the quarter working her way down the baseline for her own reverse lay-up that brought the Lady Dees within 35-26 of EBF.
"We had to change up our defense a little bit to take away the wing and guard a little bit more out front," Fenton said. "If you let them shoot, they can make you pay for it."
Hindman capped a nine-point night by sinking a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, pulling Albia within 36-29. While the Lady Dees got more open looks, just one more shot from the field would fall for Albia over the final six minutes as EBF closed the game on a 16-3 run.
"A lot of that comes from the offseason. We've got to do a better job of getting our shots up in the offseason and spending that time to become a winning team," Dykes said. "We'll find our shot. The girls are good shooters. It's just a matter of shooting against harder pressure. When you're shooting against your teammates in practice, it might not be as hard as it is to shoot against other teams. The other teams definitely don't want you to make the shot."
Rylee German added 11 points and eight rebounds as EBF held off the Lady Dees, who scored 10 of the final 12 points in the third quarter cutting the Rockets' 17-point lead down to 35-26. Hallie Hindman led Albia with nine points and eight rebounds.
While EBF (5-7, 3-3 SCC) heads to Bloomfield to face the Mustangs, Albia (3-8, 1-4 SCC) will look to snap a three-game losing streak on Friday at Chariton.