Eboni Watts took her role as a leader seriously going into Rutlands game against Jonesboro on Friday night.
The senior addressed the strengths of her fellow Hurricanes in a pre-game meeting as motivation going into the first-round game of the GHSA Class AAAA tournament.
The talk paid off, as Rutland beat Jonesboro 58-42 on a solid effort with surges of energy from its starters.
I was trying to go hard, especially because we aint ready to go home yet, Watts said. We came out hard. I feel like we were always together, then we got a little off, because everybody was tired. But after we had timeouts, we all told each other to keep going hard.
The Hurricanes got off to a 23-6 first-quarter lead, then the Cardinals crept back to cut the Hurricanes lead to 10 halfway through the second quarter. Rutland bounced back from that to jump up to a 12-point lead at halftime.
We just wanted to make sure that we got the ball up the floor as soon as possible, Rutland head coach Johnny Dixon said. It worked for us. We hit the boards well, and we moved the ball, and it worked. Defensively, we had a good game. We started reaching a little bit, but other than that, we had a real sound defensive game.
Watts led the Hurricanes with 21. Junior Mikia Brown followed with 16, including three straight jumpers to lead the Hurricanes to a 10-0 run to start the third quarter.
In the locker room, we talked about coming out and getting off to a fast start in the second half, Dixon said. Normally, were somewhat sluggish when we come out, but this time they had a little bit more energy. We would get a little burst there, then wed relax a little bit, but we gained control of the ballgame each time, so that was very important.
The Hurricanes will play South Effingham in the second round of the tournament next week.