EATON — For the first time since the 2009-10 season National Trail’s girls’ basketball team came home with a victory over Eaton.
It was the only game of the week for Eaton as it dropped a 47-43 contest against National Trail on Thursday, Dec. 29. The Lady Eagles are now 4-6 on the season heading into the 2017 part of the schedule, while National Trail improves to 6-3 on the season. On Tuesday, Trail suffered a 56-37 loss at Carlisle.
The six wins matches the Blazers total from a season ago.
After a strong start and a good first half, the Lady Blazers overcame a sluggish third quarter to survive after a Payten Laird 3-pointer with about 30 seconds left to take a 45-43 lead. Laird finished with a team-high 14 points, including 10 in the decisive fourth quarter.
JaLynn Byrd, who also scored 14 for Trail, hit two free throws to seal the victory.
Makena Laird scored 10, Savanna Abner added five while Evan Byrd and Davlyn Werner added two each for Trail.
The match-up went back-and-forth throughout the game. Late in the first quarter, Eaton pulled ahead to a 15-6 lead, but back-to-back three-pointers from JaLynn Bird helped NT close the gap and the quarter ended 15-15.
National Trail took that momentum into the second quarter went on to close out the half leading 27-20.
Eaton bounced back after the break and outscored NT 11-2 in the third quarter. The Eagles lead 31-29 at the start of the fourth.
The Lady Blazers responded with the first seven points of the final period to regain the advantage, 36-31. Eaton, however, went on a run of their own, 10-2, and took back the lead 41-38.
The Lady Blazers made back-to-back baskets to take the lead by one point, before Annika Gels scored and gave Eaton its final lead, 43-42, with :40 left to play. NT’s Payton Laird hit a key three-pointer to give the Lady Blazers the lead for good.
“I was pleased with the way we started the game and the way we came back both in the third quarter and late in the game,” coach Dave Honhart said.
“What I am disappointed in is our ability to sustain. We need to do a much better job of sustaining focus and energy. That falls on us as coaches and on our leaders,” Honhart said. “We talked about maximum physical, mental and emotional effort for 32 minutes before the game and we weren’t able to get that done.”
“Give National Trail a lot of credit too. The made a couple more big plays down the stretch than we did and they did a great job recovering from an early deficit. They are definitely an improved team,” he said.
Gels led Eaton with a career-high 16 points. She added four rebounds and two steals. Bailee Worley added nine points, four steals and two assists. Becca Mowen led the team with nine rebounds. Megan Lipps pulled down seven boards and had six points.
“We practiced Friday morning and talked about being like tennis balls – you’ve got to learn to bounce back. Resiliency when you hit adversity is an important skill in basketball and life. We’ll learn from this and move on to focusing on improvement and putting together a gameplan for Franklin.”
Eaton gets back into Southwestern Buckeye League action on Thursday, Jan. 5, at Franklin. They return home on the following Saturday for a non-league game against Ross.
National Trail was scheduled to return to the court on Tuesday Jan. 3, at Richmond with a varsity tip set for 7 p.m.