PREBLE COUNTY — Eaton’s girls basketball team is off to its best start in program history after posting a pair of wins over Oakwood and Monroe last week.
Eaton, winners of six straight, is now 12-1 overall and 7-1 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division.
The previous best start to a season after 13 games was during the 2014-15 season.
“It has been a really fun season so far. We’ve tried to emphasize having very narrow focus and just attack the season in five-game groupings or “Quarters”, so by our count, we are currently 3-0 in the “Third Quarter.” The success is a tribute to all of our players for buying in to our system and doing a great job of executing our defensive system, while making plays on offense,” Eaton coach Dave Honhart said. “They embrace coaching, they get along well and they are team-first in everything they do. Two things stand out to me that I think have been big factors in the success we’ve had so far. First, the level of intensity, focus and enthusiasm that they bring to practice every day. Second, their ability to calmly handle the biggest moments of the games and get stops, get buckets and knock down big free throws. Looking at the scores, it might not be apparent, but most of our games have been in doubt with four minutes to go. We talk about Start Fast, Finish Strong, and we have done that. My coaching staff deserves a lot of credit, for their work with our players in practice and games and all the help they give me with film preparation, game strategy, etc. Our fans also play a huge role. Eaton is a great place to play and coach, because the fans will come out and Pack the Place with Purple, There is a lot of season left to go, and we have some challenging games coming up, so we’d love to keep getting all the support we can.”
Against Oakwood, Eaton was led by senior Bailey Shepherd’s 10 points. Sophomore Mara Posey added six. Junior Kylee Kidwell had five points and four steals and freshman Lily Shepherd contributed five points.
Freshman Olivia Buamann had a team-high 11 rebounds and sophomore Allison Mowen added four points, four assists and a pair of steals.
“We won a hard-fought game. It wasn’t the prettiest game we’ve played, but we did what it took to get the win. It is always difficult playing an opponent for the second time, and with this game coming just 10 days after we won at their place, it was especially intense,” Honhart said. “We played really well at their place, and it was clear they wanted to prove they could compete with us. I thought Oakwood did a great of getting to what felt like every lose basketball and every rebound.”
“I thought Kylee Kidwell played a really good game – probably the best of her career. She’s been putting in extra work into her game, and it’s always nice when you start seeing that pay off. I also thought Olivia Baumann was phenomenal on the boards, and Ali Mowen did a great job of attacking pressure and getting open whenever we needed to get the ball in bounds to our point guard.”
Eaton held a 10-1 lead after one and was up 24-12 at the break.
Against Monroe, on Saturday, Jan. 11, the Eagles jumped out to a 9-2 lead and never trailed in claiming a 51-36 win.
“I was very proud of our players for the way that they played. We knew it would be a physical, hard-fought game. Monroe has gotten a lot better since we played them a month ago. They beat Franklin by double-digits and they played a very close game against Valley View. We knew we would have to reach a new level of effort, execution and teamwork to win this game and we did,” Honhart said. “We talk a lot about starting fast and finishing strong. I believe we started the game on a 9-2 run and finished it on a 15-1 run. That’s a pretty good job of embracing that approach. I was very, very pleased with our team defense. Everything always starts at the defensive end and we’ve done a good job of embracing that all season and holding our opponents to low effective shooting percentages. Defense is about effort, footwork, execution and mental toughness. It is the part of the game that you can consistently control, so it is a sign of our maturity to come out and force a very good Monroe team into 24 turnovers and shooting the ball at an effective shooting percentage of only 35 percent.”
Bailey Shepherd scored 18 to lead Eaton. Mowen contributed 10 points, six assists and a pair of steals. Posey, who may have played her best game yet, according to Honhart, added eight points, three rebounds and two steals. Senior Ashley Earley had five points and three rebounds and Baumann chipped in with five points and six rebounds.
“One thing that has been so much fun about coaching this team is how quickly they can pick up adjustments. We put in an entirely new set on offense on Friday that we had never run or shown before. We came out and had immediate and sustained success with it through the game. That’s a credit to our players’ versatility and ability to learn and implement things quickly. I was also so impressed with the way everyone stepped up. We’ve been without Lexi Miller for a few games now, but we are still learning to adjust to her absence, as she has been such an important player for us. Saturday, we were also without Kylee Kidwell, who is one of our top defenders, and just keeps getting better and better on offense, thanks to her extra training. Yet on Saturday, we totally embraced the Next Woman Up philosophy and got the job done.”
Eaton will host Edgewood on Wednesday, Jan. 15 and will travel to Bellbrook on Saturday for a key SWBL contest.
Shawnee splits with Dixie, Carlisle
Preble Shawnee is now 5-8 overall and 4-5 in the SWBL Buckeye Division after posting a 50-29 win over Dixie on Thursday, Jan. 9 and falling to Carlisle 57-48 on Saturday.
The Arrows led 16-9 after the first quarter and took a 35-19 lead at halftime.
Freshman Liv Thompson led the Arrows with 14 points, with 12 coming in the first half.
Freshman Campbell Jewell tossed in nine, all in the first half, while freshman Harlie Howard added seven. Seniors Cami Hollon and Kendra Worley each scored seven.
Shawnee was scheduled to host Tri-County North on Tuesday, Jan. 14 and will travel to Valley View on Thursday. The Arrows will close out the week hosting Milton-Union on Saturday.
South grabs pair of wins
Twin Valley South’s girls basketball team improved its record to 3-11 overall with wins over Dixie and Jefferson last week. The Panthers fell to 1-7 in the Cross County Conference with a setback to Bradford to close out the week.
South opened the week with a 35-22 win over Dixie on Monday, Jan. 6.
Junior Mackenzie Neal led the Panthers with nine points and seven rebounds. Junior Taylor Clark tossed in eight and had 12 rebounds. Junior Maycie Davidson and freshman Makiah Newport each scored six.
Senior Taylor Bower has six rebounds and three assists and senior Lexi Bennett had five steals.
Against Jefferson, on Tuesday, South rolled to a 76-35 win behind a career-best performance from Neal. She scored 34 points on 14-of-22 shooting and pulled down 18 rebounds.
Clark scored eight and had 14 rebounds.
Bowers scored 10 and freshman Abby McGuire contributed eight.
South was scheduled to play at Stivers on Tuesday, Jan. 14 and at Mississinawa Valley on Thursday.
Trail beats Newton, MV
National Trail took down conference foe Newton on the road Saturday, Jan. 11. It was a tough outing on the offensive end but the defense of the Blazers was able to make it difficult the entire game on the Indians, according to Trail coach James Byrd.
Molly Skinner’s defensive effort at the point of the defense throughout the game while also pulling down 10 rebounds. Skyler Ward led the team in scoring with 13 points with Davlyn Werner and Micaiah Byrd chipping in with eight each.
The win comes on the heals of the teams conference win Thursday over visiting Mississinawa Valley, 76-33. Ward led the team with 22 points that game with Makena Laird putting in 16 points, with seven rebounds and five assists.
The Blazers were scheduled to play at Madison on Tuesday, Jan. 14 and will host state-ranked Tri-Village on Thursday.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or follow on Twitter @emowen_RH