EATON — Eaton’s girls basketball team got a much needed win over county rival Tri-County North on Monday, Feb. 4 to snap a six-game losing skid.
The Eagles nearly kept the momentum going a few nights later against another county foe — Preble Shawnee. But let a 19-point halftime lead get away and suffered a 50-45 loss in overtime.
Eaton, which has fallen on hard times of late, is now 7-14 overall and 2-9 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division. They have dropped seven out of their last eight contests.
“It was a much-needed win,” Eaton coach Dave Honhart said of the Tri-County North game. “We did a much better job of taking care of the ball than we have lately, with only 12 turnovers. Tri-County did a good job of playing hard, getting some shots to drop and hanging around in the first half. As a team in the second half we did a much better job of buckling down and getting stops and creating good shots.”
Eaton held a 13-6 lead after the first quarter, but North kept the game close cutting the Eagles lead to 26-22 by halftime.
Eaton extended its lead to 42-29 after three, before pulling away in the fourth.
“Annika Gels did a great job as a leader by bringing the team together and raising the level of everyone’s play,” Honhart said. “She was also strong in her performance, as she scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting (3 of 5 behind the line.). Bailey Shepherd was very active at the defensive end, coming up with seven deflections and 13 points on 6 of 13 shooting. Becca Mowen led us in rebounding with 7 and Ali Mowen did a good job of running the offense with 3 assists and no turnovers.”
Against Preble Shawnee, on Thursday, the Eagles looked to be riding the momentum and emotions of Senior Night as they raced out to a 14-2 lead, scoring 12 straight points after the game was tied 2-2.
The momentum carried over into the second quarter as the Eagles limited the Arrows to just three points and extended their lead to 27-8 at halftime.
Shawnee, though, turned up the defensive pressure in the second half and closed to within 31-27 after three. Eaton held a 40-37 lead with late in the fourth, but the Arrows banked in a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left to force overtime.
In the overtime, the lead changes hands four times before the Arrows pulled away for the win.
“In a game that looked like it was going to be a great win on senior night turned into one of the toughest losses I’ve experienced as a coach,” Honhart said. “Before the game, we celebrated the careers of seniors Anna Black, Emily Dungan, Annika Gels and Becca Mowen. We came out very strong on defense in the first half. Playing in front of our enthusiastic bench and all of the Eaton students that came out to pack the student section, we held Preble Shawnee to eight first half points. After turnovers held us to a slow start, we got going on offense and played the best 12 minutes we’ve played all year, to build a 27-8 halftime lead. We really played as a team, with Bailey Shepherd and Lexi Miller knocking down perimeter shots and Annika Gels beating players off the dribble. The play that probably best reflected the unselfishness of the first half was a play designed to get Mara Posey a corner 3, but as she caught the ball, she saw Ashley Earley open under the basket and delivered a perfect pass, which Ashley turned in to a layup.”
As well as everything went in the first half, it went nearly as bad in the second half.
“At halftime, we talked about continuing to keep focus on our 3 keys. Strong defensive closeouts and footwork, Strong rebounding and being tough with the basketball. We also talked about attacking the traps that we knew would be coming from Preble Shawnee,” Honhart said. “Unfortunately everything that went right for us in the first half went wrong in the second half. Our passing wasn’t as sharp or as confident, our defensive energy was down and we didn’t have an attack mindset on offense. Preble Shawnee deserves a lot of credit for that, as they came out and turned us over, quickly slicing into our lead. Down the stretch in the final minutes of regulation, I was very proud of the players who were out on the floor.”
After Shawnee took its first lead of the game at 35-34, Eaton appeared to regain control.
“Once after Preble Shawnee took the lead, Bailey Shepherd gave it back to us with a short contested jumper around the rim. After they took the lead again, Annika Gels locked in and buried a 3 to give it back to us. After we got a stop with 30 seconds to go, they had to foul and sent Ali Mowen to the line, who knocked down both to put us up 3 with 21 seconds to go,” Honhart said. “If there were 10 seconds to go, we probably would have fouled and made them make a FT, miss one, get the rebound and score in order to tie it up, but with 21 seconds, we needed to defend. We talked about switching every screen and preventing 3’s. Unfortunately Shawnee set a great screen and Brenna Woodard banked in a 3 to send the game to overtime.”
The teams traded the lead four times in the overtime period before Shawnee took control.
“The Overtime was a back and forth affair, but in the final 90 seconds, turnovers and fouls on our part swung the game to Preble Shawnee,” Honhart said. “As a coach, it is a horrible feeling. It is my job to figure out a plan to give to my players so they can execute to the best of their abilities and a mindset that helps us be the aggressor and put games like this away. Clearly I did a much better job of that in the first half than in the second. Credit Shawnee with making adjustments that we failed to successively counter.”
Shepherd led the Eagles with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Lexi Miller tossed in 11 and had five rebounds. Gels added nine points, six rebound and three assists. Becca Mowen grabbed nine rebounds.
Honhart said his team bounced back on Friday during practice.
“While it was a tough loss, I am always impressed by our players resiliency. On Friday, we had a strong upbeat practice. That is a credit to the maturity, resiliency selflessness and coachability of all the players out on the practice court on Friday,” he said. “That mental toughness will serve them well both in our games this week and throughout their lives.”
Eaton was scheduled to play at Monroe on Monday to close out the regular season. They will begin sectional tournament play on Saturday, Feb. 16 against Ponitz. The game is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and will be played at Springfield High School.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH