GREENVILLE — Eaton’s girls’ basketball team opened the 2018-19 season with a split of its first two games and finished third at the Annie Oakley Shootout on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 23-24, at Greenville.
The Eagles fell in the opening round to eventual champion Bradford, 51-46, after rallying from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter.
On Saturday, Eaton outscored Ponitz 45-23 over the second and third quarters and cruised to a 72-48 win.
“We lost a hard-fought physical game that went right down to the final minute. Bradford is a good team and does an outstanding job of pressuring the basketball non-stop. At times we attacked their pressure well, too many times they turned us over,” Eaton coach Dave Honhart said. “They held us to 27 percent shooting, which is a credit to their defense and an area we have to improve on. They did a good job of getting the ball into (Bianca) Keener and forcing us to make some adjustments defensively. I thought our players showed a lot of heart and toughness fighting back from down as much as 11 points late in the third quarter to cut it to three with 54 seconds to go.”
Honhart said the game was similar to last season.
“But too often that was the story last year, and this year we need to learn to build leads and sustain them, or at least stay even with strong teams. In that final minute, we had opportunities, but couldn’t quite finish the play,” he said.
Eaton’s depth allowed it to get back into the game, according to Honhart.
“Our depth was definitely a factor which allowed us to come back. Austy Miller hit two big free throws for them to ice the game in the final seconds,” Honhart said. “Give Bradford credit. They are a well-coached, tough team that executed well and demonstrated their strength by beating host Greenville Saturday night, 49-28.”
Eaton was led in scoring by senior Emily Dungan with 12 points.
Junior Bailey Shepherd tossed in 10 points and had three steals and three assists.
Senior Becca Mowen added nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds and senior Annika Gels chipped in seven points with four rebounds and four assists.
Against Ponitz, the Eagles fell behind 5-0 in the early stages of the game, but rallied to take a 16-12 lead after the first quarter They led 33-21 at half after going on a 12-0 run to begin the second quarter.
“Bailey Shepherd had a huge second quarter for us, scoring 12 points in that stretch, helping us to build a 33-21 halftime lead,” he said.
A quick start in the third quarter for Eaton all but sealed the game.
The Eagles used 16-2 run, going 5-for-5 from the field, over the first two-and-a-half minutes to take a 49-23 lead.
“I was really proud of the way our players responded to Friday’s loss,” Honhart said. “Ponitz came out and figuratively punched us in the mouth to control the early possessions, taking a 5-0 lead and turning us over on our first three possessions. After that we did a great job of executing against their pressure and played good team defense, turning them over and forcing them into enough tough shots.”
Honhart felt his team needed to make an early run to begin the third quarter to keep its momentum.
“In the locker room, we really felt that it would be key to get the first run, as Ponitz can score quickly and we knew the game was not over. We were successful in doing that, going on a 16-2 run over the first three minutes, fueled by nine points from Becca Mowen on two three-point shots and an and-one,” he said. “We shared and moved the ball very well all day, as we had assists on 16 of our 20 buckets and 11 players scored for us. We attacked well, and got to the (foul line), but we have to convert better from the stripe — we were 26-50 — and we have to take better care of the ball, as we turned it over 23 times.”
Honhart added his team did a much better job rebounding and contesting shots than it did the previous night.
“We did a better job on the boards and challenging shots than on Friday night, as we outrebounded Ponitz 49-38 and outshot them, 39-30 percent, from the field,” he said. “Give Ponitz credit for playing very hard for 32 minutes. They have some nice players to build around, especially in Hall, Pettigrew and Ruffin, and they have improved a lot since we scrimmaged them a few weeks ago.”
Shepherd finished with a game-high 21 points. She also added 10 rebounds and four assists.
Becca Mowen had 11 points and four rebounds.
Sophomore Lexi Miller tossed in nine points and had two steals.
Gels added seven points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Freshman Allison Mowen contributed six points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Junior Ashley Earley added five points and three rebounds.
This year marked the end of the tournament due to Greenville joining the revamped Miami Valley Conference.
”Sadly, this is the final year of the Annie Oakley tournament, as Greenville will not be able to schedule as many non-league games in the future, due to a change in the number of league games they will play,” Honhart said. “It has been a privilege to be a part of the tournament over the years and Greenville has done an outstanding job of running it. Although we’d have liked to have won the varsity tournament, I was very proud of out JV team for winning the JV tournament, winning games over Versailles and Greenville to start their season off at 2-0.”
Eaton (1-1) will jump into league play on Thursday, Nov. 29, as they host defending champion Valley View.
”What a great way to start the league schedule and our home schedule, by playing last year’s champs. There’s no better way to measure yourself. They lost a great player in Hunter Stidham, but they return lots of talent and have some strong additions,” Honhart said. “They are always well-coached and they’ll be a great test. We would love to have a big, loud crowd for both our JV and varsity games.”
The junior varsity will tip-off at 6 p.m.
”Let’s pack the place with purple,” Honhart said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH