LEES CREEK — In what proved to be a victory lap in front of its home fans Monday night, the East Clinton girls basketball team cruised to a 58-18 win over Bethel-Tate, clinching the outright SBC National Division title.
East Clinton’s fourth girls basketball league championship is the first since winning the Kenton Trace Conference in 1984-85.
“The girls are always on me about talking too much,” EC head coach Bill Bean said. “I couldn’t say a lot in (the locker room). I was at a loss for words. This is what you shoot for.
“I had them at the beginning of the year list two goals that they wanted to attain this year. Every one of them, one of their two goals was winning a league championship.”
A gutsy, undermanned Bethel-Tate team hung around into the second quarter, trailing 18-12 with 4:42 left in the half. Then, the Astros put the pedal down.
East Clinton held the Tigers scoreless for 14:47 from midway through the second quarter into the fourth. The 35-0 run propelled the Astros to the outright championship.
Libby Evanshine led the way with 28 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
“She is so smart on the floor,” Bean said. “It’s like having a coach out there. Plus, how many deflections and steals does she get? She’s a nice player.”
Lauren Runyon added nine points and eight rebounds, while Kami Whiteaker had eight points. The final 10:36 of the game was played under a running clock with the Astros (15-3 overall, 11-0 SBC National) up at least 35 points.
Ashley Bee led the Tigers (3-15, 1-10) with eight points. Hailey Sampson added six points.
While East Clinton hadn’t won a girls league title since 1985, Bean mentioned having great teams over the years that ran into buzzsaws in Southeastern in the KTC and Georgetown in the SBC.
That’s what made this group getting a number on the banner even more special, Bean said.
“You walk in here in 10 years and see that banner and that number on it, you can say, ‘I was a part of that,’” Bean said. “You’ll probably appreciate it more down the road than now. It was nice to clinch it at home.”
Bean spent many of his 37 years as an assistant boys basketball coach and athletic director at EC. He helped coach some of the best basketball teams to come through Lees Creek.
He said the accomplishment of winning it as a head coach was truly special.
“This has to rank right up there number one,” Bean said. “I was involved with four or five of those boys championship teams and a lot more as an AD. It’s not the same as being that head coach. It’s a great feeling to know that you’ve accomplished a league title.
“Not only are they a good group of basketball players, but you couldn’t ask for a better group of kids. I have three great assistants that all get along well. And when your own daughter (Misty Bean) is sitting on the bench with you, that’s something special.”
Bean said he thought of two people in the immediate aftermath of Monday’s game. The first was his mother Charlotte, who passed away four years ago.
“As I was coming off the floor, some of my family congratulated me and said, ‘Wouldn’t mom be so proud,’” Bean said. “You talk about an East Clinton basketball fan. She was it. I got emotional talking to the girls about that.”
The second was Jeff Craycraft, who was the head coach of the Astros before his sudden passing on Oct. 27, 2020.
“And I told the girls, ‘You know, there’s another one,’” Bean said. “Coach Craycraft would have been very happy. You know he’s looking down right now, just grinning, saying, ‘Great job girls.’
“A piece of that net is his. It would have been nice if he had been here with us too.”
Monday, Jan. 31, 2022
At East Clinton High School
East Clinton 58, Bethel-Tate 18
(18) BETHEL-TATE (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Ashley Bee 3-2-0-8, Haley Johnson 0-0-1-1, Hailey Sampson 3-0-0-6, Abby Dunn 1-1-0-3. TOTALS 7-3-1-18.
(58) EAST CLINTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Jordan Collom 1-1-0-3, Libby Evanshine 12-0-4-28, Kami Whiteaker 3-0-2-8, Lauren Runyon 4-0-1-9, Jozie Jones 3-0-0-6, Kelsi Lilly 1-0-0-2, Jayden Murphy 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 25-1-7-58.
FIELD GOALS: BT 7/27 (Bee 3/9, Sampson 3/9); EC 25/59 (Evanshine 12/16, Runyon 4/12)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: BT 3/8 (Bee 2/5); EC 1/15
FREE THROWS: BT 1/3; EC 7/11 (Evanshine 4/7)
REBOUNDS: BT 23 (Tolliver 7, Johnson 4, Sampson 4); EC 33 (Runyon 8, Evanshine 7, Lilly 4)
ASSISTS: BT 3; EC 12 (Collom 4, Evanshine 3)
STEALS: BT 7; EC 12 (Evanshine 4, Collom 3)
BLOCKED SHOTS: BT 2; EC 3 (Murphy 1, Runyon 1, Jones 1)
TURNOVERS: BT 28; EC 8