EATON — Eaton’s boys’ basketball team played to the level of its competition against one of the best teams in the Southwestern Buckeye League. The Eagles battled Franklin at home on Tuesday, Jan. 17, looking to give the Wildcats their first loss in league play.
Eaton took Franklin to the wire, but could not come away with the win. The Wildcats edged the home team 58-57 to remain unbeaten in league play and 11-1 overall.
“We played our best game of the season against the best team in the league Tuesday night,” Coach Bob Madden said.
“Franklin is a very good offensive team. They run, they attack the basket and get their shooters open for the shot. We could have done better at rebounding but we were still there in the end.”
Eaton came out early and established its offense with three-pointers by Grant Sullender and Trevor Pittman. The first quarter ended tied 10-10. The game was close throughout, with Franklin holding a two-point lead at halftime and the game tied at the end of the third quarter. Franklin outscored the Eagles 17-16 in the final period to take the one-point victory.
“We had the last shot to win but it just didn’t fall,” Madden added.
Pittman led the Eagles with 21 points, followed by Sullender and Lew Bowser with 12 each. Pittman also pulled down 14 rebounds. Danny Howard added nine rebounds in his return to the lineup after missing four games with an injury.
“It was great to get Danny back in the rotation and I think that gave us all a lot more confidence to battle Franklin,” he said.
“I am very proud how we played the best team in the conference.”
On Friday, Eaton hosted Monroe. The Hornets also came into the game looking for their first division win.
The two teams mirrored each other in the first half, both scoring nine points in the opening quarter and 12 in the second. Eaton took a one point advantage into the fourth quarter, ahead 33-32. The final period proved to be the deciding factor as Monroe outscored Eaton 21-14 to take a six-point win, 53-47.
“Friday night we played a much- improved game versus Monroe,” Madden said. “They are well-coached and play very good defense. We played even the entire game, but two mental mistakes toward the end hurt us and we couldn’t recover.”
Eaton put four players in double figures, including Howard and Bowser, who led the team with 13 points each. Pittman added 11 points and Sullender had 10.
“It was good to see balanced scoring from us with four guys in double digits,” Madden said. “Lew Bowser is starting to come on strong, because he understands what he needs to do and he will continue to get better.”
Howard pulled down 12 rebounds, reaching double-figures for the eighth time in the last nine games. Howard is among the leaders in the SWBL, averaging 10.9 board per game.
Eaton finished the week with a 5-10 record, 0-6 in the SWBL. The Eagles were scheduled to play at Arcanum on Tuesday, Jan. 24, and then travel to Oakwood on Friday. Eaton will stay on the road for the next two games, at Brookville and Monroe.