EATON — As he enters his fourth season as Eaton’s girls basketball coach, Dave Honhart is feeling optimistic about the upcoming season.
The Eagles return virtually every player from last season’s team, which went 6-17 overall and 3-9 in the Southwestern Buckeye League’s Southwestern Division.
Of his returning players, most started at some point a year ago and Honhart believes that experience will play a key role to the success of this season.
“Last year was a rebuilding year with a lot of injuries. We probably started about nine different players,” he said.
Honhart has liked what he has seen from his team during the preseason.
“So far this has been a really fun team to coach. They get along well, share the ball and attack the rim on offense. On defense, we try to attack the ball with control — we value deflections, steals and rebounds,” he said. “Fans should see a team that plays an exciting style and competes hard for 32 minutes. We expect to be in every game on our schedule.”
Back this season is 5-foot, 2-inch, senior point guard Bailee Worley, an honorable mention all-league selection last year, who is a good passer, strong defender, and one of the leading scorers from last year.
Junior guard Emily Dungan (5-4) is a strong defender, attacks the rim well, and one of the team’s leading scorers from last year.
Junior Becca Mowen, an honorable mention all-league pick last year, provides size at 5-10 and gives the Eagles and inside scoring threat as wells as being a strong rebounder. She led the team in rebounds last season, despite missing several games with an injury.
Junior Annika Gels, at 5-7, can play both inside and out, but has been used mainly as a guard offensively during the preseason. She provides the Eagles with “team-first” type of player. She led the team in shooting percentage last year
Bailey Shepherd, a 5-10 sophomore, runs the floor well, and is becoming a strong scorer for the Eagles. She will also be relied upon to hit the offensive boards hard.
Senior Kurstin Frost will play guard. Frost is a smart player, screens well, understands the game and is becoming a strong shooter, according to Honhart.
Sophomore Ashley Early saw time last year as a freshman and will be counted on to contribute again this season. According to Honhart, Earley was a nice role player last year and he is looking for her to grow and expand her role this year.
Senior Ashton Staight missed all of last season due to an injury but returns this season. Staight has worked hard to earn a spot in the playing rotation this year, according to Honhart.
Freshman Kylee Kidwell, junior Claire Meyer, freshman Trinity Eddy, sophomore Rilee Worley and freshman Kylee Pitsinger will also dress varsity this season.
Honhart said Worley, Dungan, Mowen, Shepherd, Gels and Frost all started a number of games last year.
Freshman Alexis Miller will add depth to the team. At 5-9, she is a versatile player with a nice shot and good basketball instincts.
Honhart is expecting this group to compete for 32 minutes each time out and is hoping to challenge for a spot in the upper half of the league.
“It should be an exciting race with talented teams. Most teams have almost everyone back,” he said. ‘We want to re-establish ourselves as contenders in the league and we understand how hard we’ll have to work and how well we’ll have to play to do that.”
Honhart is encouraging the community to come and watch this season.
“Come see us play. Especially if you like watching good ball movement, transition basketball and aggressive defense,” he said.
The Eagles are scheduled to open the season on Friday, Nov. 24, at the Annie Oakley Tip-off at Greenville. They will play Bradford at 6 p.m. On Saturday, Eaton will play either host Greenville or Graham at 6 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. The junior varsity is scheduled to play at 3 p.m. on Friday and either 3 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Eaton will open its home schedule on Thursday, Nov. 30, against Bellbrook.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH