NEW PARIS — For Eaton, the game plan was to keep National Trail’s top scoring duo of Skyler Ward and Makenna Laird off balance.
The Eagles used a triangle and two defense to hold the duo to a combined two points en route to a 48-18 win in a girls basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 7.
The win improved the Eagles record to 4-0, their best start to a season since 2013-14.
Trail fell to 2-2 on the season.
“Skylar and Makenna are outstanding guards,” Eaton coach Dave Honhart said. “They’re outstanding shooters. We wanted to eliminate their catch and shoot three’s and make them work to score shots off the dribble. The triangle and two was a good way for us to do that. I thought it was phenomenal team effort on defense.”
Sophomore Allison Mowen and junior Kylee Kidwell drew the starting assignments on Ward and Laird. When they needed a break it was sophomore Mara Posey, freshman Lily Shepherd and senior Ashley Earley who had their turn.
The triangle of Bailey Shepherd, Lexi Miller and Early, along with freshman Olivia Buamann gave the Blazers, who shot just 6-of-46 on the night, including going 2-for-27 in the first half, trouble.
“We subbed entirely based on defensive positioning. Good teams are able to be versatile and execute a game plan on quick turnarounds and that’s exactly what we did. I could not be more proud of our girls,” Honhart said. “This was a team win.”
Eaton led 10-0 after the first quarter and was up 18-5 at the break.
Trail cut the Eaton lead to 19-12 with 5:02 left in the third quarter, behind the shooting of junior Lexi Benedict, who scored 11 to lead the Blazers.
The Eagles closed the quarter with an 11-0 run to take a 30-12 lead.
Eaton begin the fourth quarter with a 14-3 run to take a 44-15 lead.
“We had a game where offensively we struggled for a while and it can be really tough as basketball players to stay locked in on defense when you’re struggling on offense. It takes a championship mentality to keep grinding on D and trusting that the shots will drop,” Honhart said.
Bailey Shepherd led the Eagles with 12 points and seven rebounds. Earley added eight points and 11 rebounds. Miller tossed in eight point and grabbed three rebounds.
Lily Shepherd had seven points.
Baumann pulled down eight rebounds.
Eaton opened the week with a 57-37 win over Brookville.
Bailey Shepherd scored a career-high 28 points and added eight steals. Posey finished with nine points, going 3-for-5 on three-pointers.
Miller and Earley each added six points, while pulling down four and five rebounds respectively.
Mowen added four assists and Baumann grabbed seven rebounds.
Eaton opened the season with a 54-38 win over Middletown Madison and a 56-54 overtime win at Greenville.
Honhart said the Madison game was physical.
“It was a physical game against a team with strong drivers and shooters,” Honhart said. “I was very proud of the way our players played together throughout the game. I thought a big key was the way we performed in the last 4 minutes of the second quarter. We were down 5 and Bailey Shepherd had just picked up her third foul. Ali Mowen and Kylee Kidwell both hit threes (both were assisted by Rilee Worley) to give us the lead going into half time. In the second half, we did a nice job of slowly building our lead and not letting Madison back into the game once we were ahead. It was a total team effort. We were dedicated to contesting their three-point shots and keeping Kenzie Saunders from driving to the right where she is so dangerous. Once we switched to playing man defense at the start of the second quarter, I thought Ashley Earley did a phenomenal job of guarding Saunders. Ashley wants to guard the best player on the opposing team and for her to defend a point guard like that was pretty impressive. Bailey also did a great job of playing the entire second half without picking up an additional foul.”
Honhart said the Greenville game had a “championship feel” to it.
“What a great game to be a part of,” Honhart said. “That game had a championship level feel in terms of intensity and playmaking ability on the floor. It was great for us to be a part of that atmosphere and exciting to come up with the win. The way that you learn to win close games is by winning close games, so to get this one under our belt early in the season is huge. We work on late game scenarios, but it is totally different actually being in them. What I was most proud of was the way our players kept their poise and came up with big rebounds, baskets and steals down the stretch. This was a total team win. Greenville is a talented, well-coached team, and Haliegh Behnken and Morgan Gilbert are very hard to guard. I think they are going to have a good season.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or follow on Twitter @emowen_RH