EATON — After dropping a hard-fought 47-41 to Franklin, a short-handed Eaton girls’ basketball team bounced back to down Hamilton Ross, 46-32, on Saturday.
Eaton coach Dave Honhart said his team, now 4-7 overall and 1-4 in the SWBL, showed progress in the loss to Franklin and toughness in the win over Ross.
The games were played Thursday, Jan. 4 and Saturday, Jan. 6.
“I was proud of how our players battled, despite the 47-41 loss. We knew Franklin had a lot of weapons on offense and did a reasonably good job on defense, holding them to 27 percent shooting” he said. “Layne Ferrell has become such a game-changer. We keyed on her and kept her in check for most of the night, yet she still winds up with 29 points. She really did a good job of finding ways to score in the third quarter to stretch their lead and then when we had to start pressuring, she got loose in transition, which is where she is most dangerous. She also did a great job at the FT line (8 of 9.)”
Eaton trailed 8-5 after the first quarter against the Wildcats and were down 23-15 at the half. The Eagles trailed by 10 (34-24) entering the fourth quarter.
“We went into the game saying we had to score 52 points to win. We had 26 in the second half, but only 15 in the first half. This was only our second game in 21 days, which may have had something to do with it,” Honhart said. “We also missed a ton of contested shots at the rim, so it was frustrating to have those opportunities and not be able to finish them. Still, we fought very hard to come back late, and while you hate to lose, playing Franklin to within six points does show progress.”
The Eagles had balanced scoring with five players scoring six or more points.
Bailey Shepherd and Kylee Pitsinger each had eight. Annika Gels had seven, while Emily Dungan and Bailee Worley each contributed six.
Shepherd led the team with nine rebounds.
Against Ross, Eaton was down four varsity players for the game.
“I was incredibly proud of our players for the way they finished and for finding a way to win. We pulled away late to win 46-32. This series has been such a fun one over the years, and it has become a point of pride for us that Eaton Girls Basketball takes care of business and puts one in the win column for the Eagles,” Honhart said. “This game wound up being very challenging for us form a personnel standpoint, as we were missing four of our top seven leading scorers due to a softball showcase and a couple injuries.”
The Eagles struggled with 37 turnovers, but was able to take over the game in the fourth quarter, as they outscored The Rams 22-8 to secure the win.
“Ross plays a tough schedule, is a very scrappy team that plays with a ton of heart and is very disruptive on defense. For most of the day, they pressured us into a lot of turnovers, but we shot it well enough to keep ourselves in the game — 43 percent from the field and 39 percent behind the line — one of our best shooting nights of the season,” Honhart said.
He said the team got contributions from everyone who played.
“We had a handful of JV players play significant minutes and handled themselves very well,” Honhart said. “Kurstin Frost hit a three at the third quarter buzzer to tie the game at 24. It was still tied at 26 with 5 minutes to go when we really got things going.”
Bailey Shepherd and Emily Dungan led the team in scoring with 19 and 14 points, respectively and both had strong fourth quarters, combining for 21 points over the last 8 minutes of the game. Shepherd also had 13 rebounds, while Bailee Worley had 5 steals and 3 assists. Worley also had 5 defensive deflections while Dungan had 8.
“Ashley Early anchored our zone with strong interior defense. While our scoring might not have been balanced, our heart, effort and teamwork certainly was,” Honhart said. “This was a total team effort and I was very proud of our players’ mental and emotional toughness throughout the game.”
Eaton is scheduled to host Monroe on Thursday, Jan. 11 and will travel to Oakwood on Saturday. They will also play at National Trail on Monday, Jan. 15, in a game rescheduled from Dec. 30.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH