EATON — The Eaton boys basketball team has gotten a massive makeover from the past few years. The school district brought in head coach John Tollefson, previously the varsity head coach at Sidney Lehman Catholic, to give the program some new momentum.
Tollefson’s style of play is fast-paced and gritty. Fans need to look no further than the new slogan – “we’re united, disciplined, and pugnacious” – to understand what kind of attitude he hopes his Eagles will portray come tip-off time.
“I want the kids to not care about how much playing time they get, how many points they get, if their role is to just be a practice player. They are more interested in the success of the team and the program,” said Tollefson. “We want to be disciplined not just in the standard sense of discipline but in the way they execute on offense and defense.”
The Eagles were 7-16 last season and 2-20 the season before that.
But that doesn’t bode well with the new guy in charge, who said that he’s never coached a team that’s finished the season under .500 at the varsity level.
And he believes he has his group of players buying into his aggressive game play. During the pre-season, Eaton has been the first to the floor for loose balls, boxing out, and taking charges on a regular basis.
“They are becoming tenacious. It’s a hard thing to teach and it takes a special kid to buy into, and they are buying into it and that’s phenomenal,” he said.
His team will be large in height and length as well, boosting a roster where the average player is 6’2” or taller.
“We have good size. We are going to switch everything on defense. When you have length like that, as long as you have big guys who are willing to sit down and commit against those quick guards, use their length, good things happen,” said Tollefson. “I do like our height. We are tall.”
Eaton even returns Trey Smith, a first team All-SWBL player and the team’s leading scorer from last year, to help lead the new era of hoops.
The Eagles ended their pre-season with a trip to the Norris Cole Hi-top Classic where they faced off against Piqua on Saturday, Nov. 21.
They tip-off their regular season at Twin Valley South High School as part of the four-team Panther Tip-Off Tournament on Friday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 28. They open up against Stivers on Friday at 5:45 p.m.
Jeremy can be reached at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.