WEST ALEXANDRIA — Eaton’s boys’ basketball team won its first-ever Twin Valley South Tip-Off Tournament championship behind a career-high performance from senior Trevor Pittman.
Pittman scored 32 points, including making six 3-pointers as the Eagles outlasted Dixie, 58-42, to win the title for the first time in five tries.
“To see the hard work pay off really quick for these guys is awesome,” said Eaton first-year coach Bob Madden. “That was one of the things we talked about in the locker room before the game. I told them to close their eyes and envision them winning the championship. I told them to keep that picture in their mind the entire game. They did a good job with that. I think it means a lot to these kids. They haven’t had a lot of chances for that kind of stuff. I’m just proud to be able to coach these guys.”
The victory was somewhat overshadowed by a fight among players midway through the third quarter which resulted in three players, two from Dixie and one from Eaton, and four fans being ejected. Cooler heads prevailed and the game finished without any further incident.
The Eagles grabbed control of the hotly contested game midway through the first quarter and never looked back.
Trailing 7-3, Eaton used an 13-2 run to take a 16-7 lead after the first quarter.
Eaton extended its lead to 33-19 by halftime as Pittman scored 17 of his points in the first 16 minutes.
With Eaton leading 36-23 midway through the third chaos broke out when players scrambled to the floor for a loose ball. While in the pile, punches were thrown resulting in the ejections.
After the situation was sorted out by the officials, Eaton was awarded four free throws and Pittman calmly sank three of the four to give his team a 39-23 lead.
Madden called the incident unfortunate.
“All I saw was they tripped and fell on each other and I turned around to see where the ball was and all of a sudden there is pretty much a fight going on,” Madden said. “I thought the officials did a good job of trying to consult with each other and figure out exactly what they needed to do. I thought they did a good job and they explained what needed to happen. It’s an unfortunate situation, you don’t like it, but like I told these guys — they had to keep their composure.”
Eaton seemed to be the more inspired team after the incident, pushing the lead to 46-26 by the end of the quarter. The biggest lead of the game was 24 points (50-26) early in the fourth.
Pittman was the calming influence the Eagles needed, according to Madden.
“I think he’s the steady guy. He’s not a big talker. He leads by example,” Madden said of Pittman, who was named the MVP of the tournament. He was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Jordan Lewis and Daniel Howard.
The Eagles beat National Trail 48-35 in the first round on Friday.
Eaton (2-0) was scheduled to host Preble Shawnee on Tuesday, Dec. 6, before hosting Bellbrook on Friday, Dec. 9.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.