Before her team’s game Tuesday night, Dunnellon girls’ basketball Coach Gwen Treherne acknowledged her team was still growing after two difficult defeats to open the 2017-18 campaign.

Afterwards, she remained proud of her Tigers’ effort and pluckiness in the face of an Eastside group that ran out to a 15-0 lead to open the action and led by as many as 38 points after Zakiya Speed hit a 3-pointer to end the third quarter for the Rams en route to a convincing 60-17 win.

The growing process is still in its early phases for Treherne, who is in her first season at the helm of Dunnellon after previously leading Vanguard’s program to success in the past.

“I thought the girls really tried hard, winded, to continue to push forward through the entire game, so I am impressed with their ability to get out there and continue to push,” said Treherne afterwards. “I’m impressed with their effort. We take little steps, but we’ll get there.”

Dunnellon drops to 0-3 on the season after opening the season with similarly difficult outings against Williston and West Port, but all hope is far from lost to Treherne. The Tigers allowed their lowest point total of the three contests while also reaching their highest scoring total yet.

“My message is always to just keep pushing, and the most important thing is that the girls have an opportunity to get out there and just not to give up,” said Treherne.

Amongst the highlights for Dunnellon was an energetic performance from Alexa Hastings, who stood out with 11 of the Tigers’ 17 points, including Dunnellon’s first bucket of the game and 7 points in a second half highlighted by a driving floater that saw Hastings brave the reach of two Rams defenders in the lane and sink a floater that drew cheers from the home crowd.

Hastings also stood out rebounding, time and time again fighting off Eastside forwards crashing the boards and battling a full-court press the Rams used relentlessly. “It’s something I appreciate about her,” said Treherne with a smile when asked about Hastings’ competitive fire.

Eastside’s early lead was built thanks in part to a tenacious press that saw Rams swarming Dunnellon’s ballhandlers at every turn. The press led to a bevy of turnovers, forced and otherwise, and seemed to erode Dunnellon’s confidence as the deficit mounted.

“Pressing is something we’re just getting to this year,” said Eastside coach Lonnika Thompson. “Last year we didn’t get to it as much so this year we’re trying to do something new, trying to spark some energy.”

While the frenzy of tipped passes, tie ups and turnovers forced by Thompson’s defense keyed the Rams, aggressive and effective post play was the key for Eastside’s offense. Tyusha Sanford was a force inside all night with 10 points, and De’Asin Danzy added 9 for the Rams, who are winners of five straight with the victory.

Dunnellon will look for its first win of the season in another home tilt this Friday against Lake Weir.

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