EATON — Dave Honhart knew playing two of the Southwestern Buckeye League’s top programs over the past several years in a span of three days was going to present a challenge for his Eaton girls basketball team.
The Eagles entered the week unbeaten at 6-0, but faced off with Bellbrook and Franklin, both programs having reached the regional the past two seasons.
Eaton put up a fight against Bellbrook on Thursday, Dec. 19, after falling behind by 14 points early in the second quarter, but came up a point shy, falling 46-45.
Then on Saturday, Eaton pulled away late in the third quarter, then knocked down key free throws in the final quarter, to hold of Franklin for a 64-52 win.
“It’s a really nice team win going into vacation. We get four days off, much needed. Franklin played three games this week. We had a game where we really emptied the tank against Bellbrook on Thursday. You probably had a couple of tired teams going at it today,” Honhart said after the win over Franklin.
Eaton trailed early 11-7 and was behind 13-12 after one. Franklin extended its lead to 23-17 with just over three minutes left in the half, but Eaton went on a 10-2 run to close the half and take a 27-25 lead.
“I thought, really, the difference was late in the second quarter we were down and we won the last two minutes. Then probably the last four minutes of the third quarter we got on a nice run,” Honhart said.
After the Wildcats trimmed Eaton’s lead to 34-30 with just over 3 minutes left in the third, the Eagles used an 8-0 run to take a 42-30 lead.
Eaton saw its lead trimmed to five three times in the final quarter, the last at 53-48 with 2:50 to play.
Eaton iced the game going 12-of-15 from the foul line in the final quarter, including making 11 of its last 12 attempts.
“We closed out the game really strong,” Honhart said.
Senior Bailey Shepherd led the Eagles with 20 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Sophomore Allison Mowen added 10 points — including going 8-for-8 from the line in the final minute — five rebounds and five assists.
Junior Lexi Miller added seven points and five rebounds. Senior Ashley Earley had six points and six rebounds and junior Kylee Kidwell had six points, fours steals and four rebounds.
Freshmen Olivia Baumann and Lily Shepherd each added seven points.
“As a team so far I’m just proud of this group, players and coaches, in terms of, we knew we were good last year, we had some success in playoffs, and yet at the same time there is a process to learning how to handle success. What we keep talking about is we want to skip some steps,” Honhart said. “We want to learn all the lessons the fun way, where it’s in winning games because we want to get things done while we still have Rilee Worley, Ashley Earley and Bailey Shepherd. Those seniors are providing great leadership and they are really good basketball players. So, we want to do some special things while they’re still here. The future is bright. We have strong classes coming, but those three have this season and we’re trying to make it special.”
Against Bellbrook, Eaton committed 12 turnovers and fell behind 16-4 after the first quarter and trailed 27-15 at the half.
Eaton got within 35-29 after three and still trailed by 11 (46-35) midway through the fourth quarter before staging a late rally.
Bailey Shepherd led Eaton with 22 points and four rebounds. Mowen contributed 10 points, five assists, three rebounds and three steals.
Miller had a team-high nine rebounds.
Worley came off the bench and provided a spark with seven points.
“We’re 2-1 in the second quarter of our season and that’s they way we’re looking at it,” Honhart said.
Eaton (7-1, 3-1) will play at Alter on Saturday, Dec. 20 and will travel to Oakwood on Monday, Dec. 30.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or follow on Twitter @emowen_RH