Lady Eagles peaking at the right time

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Purdy's Rion Boyd closes out on a Wheaton player during Ozark 7 Conference play. The Lady Eagles are riding high as they enter district play next week. Jared Lankford/

Conference title boosts Purdy's enthusiasm

Purdy Lady Eagles basketball coach Eli Ernst can finally breathe a small sigh of relief.

Ernst, has been under constant pressure from some fans during his two seasons at Purdy to win, and win now.

However, Ernst knew the reality of the situation, that a young team coupled with a learning curve created by his style of basketball meant rough waters.

The tide seems to be turning in Ernst's favor as the Lady Eagles (14-9) have won seven of their last eight games and at least a share of the Ozark 7 Conference crown.

"The girls continue to improve every time we take the floor," Ernst said. "They are understanding their roles and executing on both ends of the floor."

Purdy hosts the Class 2, District 12 Tournament beginning Monday, and they earned the No. 3 seed. Jasper and Pierce City were selected No. 1 and 2, respectively.

On the season, the Lady Eagles are a combined 0-3 against those squads.

"We know we have our work cut out for us," Ernst said. "We have some positive momentum right now. We know that we have to show up and play every night out on the floor in order to maintain it."

A big factor in the Lady Eagles' success is the emergence of three legitimate scoring threats in Desirie Ennes, Courtney White and Jayse Henderson. The trio have combined to average 32 points per contest.

"They have been key to our run down the stretch," Ernst said. "When one has had an off-night scoring, the others have picked up the slack. We are peaking at the right time."

Purdy's final home game is Thursday against Exeter. A win against the Lady Tigers will give the black and gold the conference title outright.

On Monday, Jasper and McAuley open the district tournament at 4 p.m., followed by Greenfield and Miller. Pierce City and College Heights are slated to play at 7 p.m., immediately followed by Purdy and Wheaton.

Purdy defeated the Lady Bulldogs on Monday, 61-32.

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