GEORGETOWN — Eastern's No. 1-rated boys' high school basketball team is putting itself through some rigorous road tests as it heads toward the post-season.
After winning at No. 17 Fern Creek and No. 2 Ballard last week, the Eagles pulled out a 66-60 victory at No. 7 Scott County Tuesday night.
Lyonell Gaines led the way with 22 points, 12 rebounds and a terrific defensive game.
Eastern (25-2) closes the regular season with a visit to Elizabethtown on Friday.
"These four games might be the toughest schedule we've had," Gaines said. "Maybe even tougher than when we won the LIT (Louisville Invitational Tournament) because these are on the road where nobody's for you and you're playing good competition."
Winning away from home gives Eastern lots of momentum going into district tournament play next week.
"I don't think you have to win 14 or 15 in a row, but I do think you have to win some big games in February to get some confidence." Eastern Coach Jason Couch said. "I think we've done that."
Couch had hoped to play Scott County in Louisville, but Cards Coach Billy Hicks won a coin flip last summer to get the game in Georgetown.
As it turned out, it didn't matter. "When Eastern plays that good, they're hard to beat anywhere," Hicks said.
Gaines was the prime force on both ends of the floor. The 6-foot-6 IUPUI signee not only led the Eagles in points and rebounds, he also limited Scott County star Tamron Manning to just eight points on 3-for-15 shooting.
"We're so lucky to have a guy like Lyon-ell, a guy with his size and strength but still mobile enough to guard somebody on the perimeter," Couch said. "But the No. 1 thing about him is he's one of the smartest basketball players I've ever coached."
Kameron Woods, a 6-7 Butler signee, was also a force in the middle with 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
"They had five or six blocks and they were all layups," Hicks said. "That's 10 or 12 points which might've been the difference in the game."
The Eagles had plenty of scorers besides Gaines. Remy Abell had 15 points, Byron Sanford had 10 and Woods added seven.
Despite shooting 37 percent, Scott County stayed in the game thanks to Isaiah Ivey and Tanner Shotwell, who had 15 points apiece, and freshman Trent Gilbert's 13 points (including three three-pointers) off the bench.
The Cards kept nipping at Eastern's heels down the stretch, twice slicing the deficit to two points.
But the Eagles were clutch at the foul line. Five different Eastern players combined to make 10 consecutive free throws in the last 52 seconds to keep Scott County at bay.
"You've got a small margin for error when you play Eastern," Hicks said. "I thought we played pretty good, but not good enough."
Eastern's victory over the Cards was its 10th this season over a top-20 team.
EASTERN (25-2) — Abell 5-10 4-4 15, Gaines 8-14 5-5 22, Woods 2-8 3-4 7, Marks 2-6 0-0 4, Sanford 2-2 6-7 10, Taylor 2-5 2-2 6, Davis 1-1 0-0 2, Corlew 0-1 0-0 0, Blade 0-1 0-0 0, Clements 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-49 20-22 66.
SCOTT CO. (20-5) — Manning 3-15 2-6 8, Ivey 6-19 2-2 15, Shotwell 7-14 0-0 15, Richardson 1-4 0-0 3, Gilbert 5- 9 0-0 13, Barber 0-1 0-0 0, Relford 2-2 0-0 4, Harris 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 24-65 6-10 60.
Eastern 11 20 13 22—66
Scott Co. 11 16 12 21—60