WEST ALEXANDRIA —The Eaton Eagles boys basketball team had a rough start to the season after dropping both games at the Twin Valley South Panther Tip-off on Friday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 28.
The season opened with a loss to Stivers, as the Eagles fell 69-52 to the Tigers who eventually went on to win the opening weekend tournament.
The Eagles and Tigers were close after the first period, as both teams played well on offense. Stivers took a 20-17 lead into the second quarter.
The Tigers began to stretch the lead in the second quarter, scoring another 17 points compared to just nine for the Eagles, for a 37-26 Stivers lead heading into the halftime break.
The Eagles trimmed the lead in the third quarter but it wasn’t enough, as the Tigers controlled play for the majority of the second half.
Eaton head coach John Tollefson said turnovers played a vital part in the game.
“We gave a good effort, we just have to take care of the ball better,” he said. “We had 14 turnovers in the second half, we dug ourselves a hole — but I felt like we won the other aspects of the game. But any time you have 14 turnovers in a half, bad things happen.”
Trevor Pittman led the Eagles with 19 points, with Lew Bowser pitching in 15 and Trey Smith scoring 14.
The Eagles then faced the Dixie Greyhounds in the consolation game on Saturday, Nov. 28, after falling to tournament host Twin Valley South the night prior.
The teams played an up-and-down pace in the first half, trading baskets back and forth for the majority of the period. Eventually Dixie entered the halftime break with a 32-28 lead.
The wheels fell off the bus for the Eagles to start the second half, as Dixie seemingly could not miss from the field on its way to 54 percent shooting for the game, including making seven of 14 three-point attempts.
“I’m a little perplexed about what happened tonight,” Tollefson said afterward. “It’s not just about going out and playing hard because if you’re not doing the right things it doesn’t matter.”
The Greyhounds scored 15 points while holding the Eagles to seven in the third period, and the Eagles found themselves trailing 49-35 going into the final frame.
Tollefson felt his team lacked focus on the defensive during the third quarter. “They hit some big shots, but we have to stop the ball. When we close out we have to get a high hand — it’s lot easier to shoot when you are just looking at the rim and not an arm in your face. That’s being focused and making sure you do it right every time.”
The Eagles cut the lead under double digits a couple of times in the final frame, but never really contested the Greyhounds’ lead. They eventually fell 65-52.
Tollefson said rebounding played a huge part of the game. “They killed us on the glass,” he said. “I don’t want to take anything away from them because they are a good team, but we missed out on an opportunity to play well and put together a complete game.”
Pittman again led the Eagles with 15 points and Daniel Howard scored 10 as the only other Eagle in double figures.
Smith and Donnie Nicodemus each added eight.
The Eagles fall to 0-2 to start the season as they play Preble Shawnee on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at Preble Shawnee.
Moving forward, Tollefson said his team will need to learn from the opening weekend. “We have to pay much better attention to details,” he said. “Just because you know what to do doesn’t mean you’re doing it. Effort is great but you have to have execution with it.”
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.
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