By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
DEKALB - It was hard telling who was going to win Tuesday's battle between DeKalb and East Atchison.
The first three quarters featured five ties and eight lead changes, and momentum seemed to change per possession.
Then, East Atchison had their best run of the game, going up 46-38 with about five minutes to play. An early 4th quarter three from Wolves' senior Brynnan Poppa looked, for a moment, like the shot that changed the game.
But, DeKalb wasn't done.
The Tigers (10-2) ended the game on a 12-0 run and defeated East Atchison 50-46 on Tuesday night at DeKalb High School.
The Tigers, winners in three of their last four, kept the Wolves scoreless for nearly the final three minutes.
"We just kind of talked about how we needed to get some stops," DeKalb coach McKenzie Reagan said. "We really put a lot of focus on our defensive aspects and we kind of got the job done. That helped the momentum swing."
Facing an eight-point deficit in the final quarter, junior Ashton Crockett kept calm.
"We didn't need to rush," Crockett said after scoring a game-high 25 points, including 10 in the final period. "We had plenty of time to get our scorers back and we just had to play good defense and not let them beat us long on the press."
The fourth quarter started fast for both teams. With DeKalb leading 31-30, both teams combined to score 35 points over the final eight minutes.
East Atchison (12-3) played press defense for most of the game Tuesday, and did all they could to keep the pressure on in the closing minutes when their offense started to go cold.
When DeKalb started playing press themselves, they forced turnovers, got to the foul line and got clutch buckets of their own, including a three-pointer from junior Macy Dittemore which cut it to a one-score game, 46-43, with about three minutes left.
Dittemore ended up with 10 points, junior Rebbie Reagan had nine and junior Carissa Martin had four - all from the foul line and all in the final quarter.
DeKalb made 10-of-15 shots from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
"This was a good team win for us," head coach McKenzie Reagan said. "We've been struggling with some stuff a little bit, like free throws. So, for us to pull this out going into the rest of the week and the King City tournament next week is definitely a little confidence boost."
DeKalb is a small (12 players) and young (two seniors) team. East Atchison has nearly double (22 players) the roster and has four seniors.
Stopping a Wolves' team that had won eight straight games going in, including the Fairfax Invitational title last Saturday, says one thing loud and clear - this DeKalb team is no joke.
"We're really proud," Crockett said. "A lot of people thought that after our seniors left last season, we weren't going to be as good. But, we're proving everybody wrong and we're better than we were last season."
DeKalb 50 - 12, 9, 10, 19
East Atchison 46 - 9, 13, 8, 16
DeKalb scorers - Ashton Crockett - 25, Macy Dittemore - 10, Rebbie Reagan - 9, Carissa Martin - 4, Lainie Vogan - 2, Gracie Hanshaw - 2
East Atchison scorers - Morgan Parshall - 16, Brynnon Poppa - 11, Tommie Lee Martin - 9, Claire Martin - 6, Ella Rolf - 2, Natalie Hedlund - 1, Sophia Martin - 1.