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Eagles stay in front

United's Dakota Hill looks to go for a layup as East Palestine's Branden Kemp (left) defends and Stephen Darlington looks on Friday.

EAST PALESTINE– The Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference leading United Eagles knew the stakes coming into Friday’s game against second-place East Palestine as teams are lobbying for position in the league’s inaugural season.

“We knew coming in this is the end of the first cycle of everyone playing each other,” United coach Chris Kadvan said. “At the end of that first cycle we are in first place.”

United ended the game on a 11-5 run to pick up a 58-48 win over East Palestine.

United is 8-2 on the season and 6-1 in league play, one game ahead of Wellsville and Toronto. East Palestine is 6-5 and 4-3 in league play.

“We don’t look big picture,” Kadvan said. “We look game to game. We have a game against Salem (on Saturday) and than its right back to league play when we play Lisbon.”

East Palestine tied the game at 38 in the third quarter before United’s Dakota Hill hit a three-pointer to break the tie.

“That three definitely swung the momentum in our direction,” Hill said. “We were letting them get back into the game and after that we went off with the game.”

Early in the first quarter East Palestine led 11-7 in the first quarter before United went on a 16-2 run to take a 23-13 lead.

“This was for first place,” East Palestine coach LJ Sutton said. “Nate (Beatty) being out and Branden Kemp fouling out took away our offensive firepower.”

The Bulldogs have dropped three of their last four games.

“The competition in this league is phenomenal,” Sutton said. “Any given night anyone can win and it shows that you can’t take any game for granted.”

Kemp fouled out midway through the fourth quarter and Beatty was out due to illness.

“Not having (Beatty) really hurt,” Sutton said. “That’s another guard that comes off the bench that knows how to play and is very aggressive on the defensive end.”

East Palestine’s Clayton Murray had seven of those first 11 points for the Bulldogs.

“He torched us inside early,” Kadvan said. “We ran a zone in the second half to limit his scoring.”

Murray finished the night with 12 rebounds and 16 points with only two of those coming in the second half.

“We played extremely well tonight,” Sutton said. “We weren’t in a hurry until the fourth quarter.”

“That fourth quarter we couldn’t buy a basket.”

After United took a 23-13 lead East Palestine replied with a 12-2 run to bring the game within one.

“We want to be playing our best ball in February,” Sutton said. “It’s a process and the team has responded well to this season. It’s a testament to this team that they want to get better.”

United was led in scoring by senior Dakota Hill with 22 points and six assists. Fellow senior Kaden Smith finished with 14 points.

“You think of my first year when Dakota and Kaden were freshman they only won three games,” Kadvan said. “We are now sitting at 8-2 in the first in the league.”

“We have showed a lot of grit and discipline this season.”

Also for United, Landon Baker had nine points and Parker Hydrick had eight points.

“The biggest thing we have been doing is been playing team basketball,” Kadvan said. “I can’t preach that enough. Out of my four years coaching here this is the best I’ve seen.”

Also for East Palestine, Dominic Posey had 14 points and Kemp had 10 points.

United will travel to Salem tonight.

“It’s the battle of Route 9,” Kadvan said. “We both played tonight so it’s going to come down to who is going to have more effort and execute.”

East Palestine will travel to Columbiana on Tuesday.

GAME NOTES:

–United hit baskets at the buzzer at the end of the first two quarters. Parker Hydrick made a driving layup at the end of the first quarter and Nathan Pytash made a jump shot scoring his only two points of the night before halftime.

–Both schools didn’t have school prior to this game.

“It threw it off a little bit but our coaches do a great job to get us back in motion,” Hill said. “We had a great shootaround before we left today.”

–In jayvee action, United won 58-38.

For United, Nate Miller had 10 points and Brutus Ogilvie had eight points.

For East Palestine, Dalton Vance had 12 points and Dominick Lohn had 10 points.

UNITED: 19-14-10-15–58

EAST PALESTINE: 13-16-9-10–48

UNITED SCORING: Kaden Smith 5-3-14 , Dakota Hill 8-3-22 , Parker Hydrick 4-0-8 , Alex Birtalan 1-0-3, Landon Baker 1-7-9, Anthony DiBaggio 0-0-0, Nathan Pytash 1-0-2, Nick Rhodes 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 21, 13-23: 58.

EAST PALESTINE SCORING: Branden Kemp 3-4-10, Steve Darlington 0-2-2, Dominic Posey 4-5-14, Jeremy Reynolds 0-1-1, Clayton Murray 6-4-16, Joe Monteleone 2-0-5, Chandler Davis 0-0-0, Robbie Hill 0-0-0 , Brian Taylor 0-0-0 . TEAM TOTALS: 15, 16-21: 48.

Three-point goals: United 5 (Hill 3, Smith, Birtalan), East Palestine 2 (Monteleone, Posey).

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