As members of the Eaton’s girls basketball team filed out of the locker room, some with tears, others with looks of disappointment, coach Gary Peffly reflected on the journey that had just come to an end a few minutes earlier.
The third-seeded Eagles were eliminated in a Division II sectional championship game for the second consecutive year, with a 47-32 loss to No. 2 seed Tippecanoe at Tecumseh High School, on Saturday, Feb. 22.
“Our heart was in the right place. The girls, their attitude was great. Everything that I expected from our kids as far as attitude-wise, they did out there. I can’t say enough about the girls,” Peffly said. “I thought they put forth a great effort.”
They just ran into a better team on this night.
Eaton committed 26 turnovers, 10 in the fourth quarter, as Tipp broke away from 16-16 tie at halftime, to take control of the contest. The Eagles shot just over 34 percent from the field (14-of-41) in the defensive battle, which saw both teams struggle to score points early.
“We turned the ball over. We didn’t capitalize offensively. We just didn’t do enough. Tipp City was a better team today,” Peffly said. “They executed very well and I can’t say enough about them and I wish them the best of luck next week.”
Sophomore Julia Titus came off the bench to the team in scoring with 10. Junior Danielle Karns scored seven and junior Liz Tolliver chipped in with five. Autumn Whirley, Eaton’s leading scorer for the season, was held to just four points.
Peffly said the loss doesn’t diminish the season his team had.
“We’re a really good basketball team. We just didn’t transfer our ability that we have, and I’m including myself there also, I’m talking about coaching staff and players, we didn’t transfer out ability out to the floor,” he said.
Peffly said the teams three seniors, Katie Yoder, Michelle McKinney and Kasey Titkemeyer are going to be missed.
“I just can say enough about the three seniors. The three seniors were just absolutely a blessing to coach. I’ve coached them now for nine years. They are just top-shelf young ladies and I know they are going to be successful in life,” Peffly said. “It’s been a great roll. I don’t know if I’ve had this much fun coaching as I’ve had with this group the last two years. It all starts with Katie Yoder, Michelle McKinney and Kasey Titkemeyer. Great leaders and just made everything an absolute joy. They’ve made life great for me.”
Eaton advanced to the sectional final with a 58-28 win over Greenon on Feb. 18. Tolliver scored 14 in the win and Karns added 12.
The Eagles (20-5) finished with 20 wins for the second straight year and claimed the program’s first-ever league title. They also won two tournament games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history. In addition, over the past three years the program has 55 wins.
“These girls have set a lot of really good records. Hopefully, this will carry over into the future of Eaton girls’ basketball. I just can’t say enough about what has transpired for the school over the last three years. You take the last three years and this team has won 55 games,” Peffly said. “They can take away a lot of real good positives and that’s what they’ve got to do.”