EATON — It was an up and down week for Eaton’s girls’ basketball team as the Eagles extended their season-best win streak to seven games before dropping its second game of the season to close out the week.
On Wednesday, Jan. 15, the Eagles took down visiting Edgewood 54-49 to improve to a program-best start of 13-1. Three days later, Eaton turned in its lowest point total of the season and fell at Bellbrook, 52-33, to fall to 13-2 overall and 7-2 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division.
Both of Eaton’s losses have been to Bellbrook. The Golden Eagles beat Eaton 46-45 in December.
“Knocking off 12-3, D-1 Edgewood was a huge win for our program,” Eaton coach Dave Honhart said. “They are the best passing team that we’ve played and they really do a good job of getting the shots that they want and they are a good shooting team, so they definitely presented challenges for us on defense.”
Eaton was led by senior Bailey Shepherd’s 24 points, five rebounds and four steam performance. Sophomore Ali Mowen added nine points and four assists and freshman Olivia Baumann contributed nine points, eight rebounds and three assists. Senior Ashley Earley added six points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Eaton held a 15-13 lead after the first quarter, but trailed 27-24 at the half.
“What I was most proud of was our resiliency. We fell behind by seven in the second quarter after they hit a few threes and we had it down to three by halftime,” Honhart said. “At halftime we talked about improving the job we were doing closing out on their three-point shooters and attacking the rim offensively. I thought we shared the ball very well in the second half and that was key to building our lead up to eight and nine at various points. In the fourth quarter, Edgewood hit some big threes to keep them in the game, and most of them were well contested, so you’ve got to give them credit for knocking them down.”
Honhart said his team remained focused despite the Cougars closing to within two in the final minutes.
“But, as has been the case all season, we stayed calm and made the right plays at the end of the game,” he said. “This time, it was Olivia Baumann knocking down four straight free throws at the end of the game. I thought the leadership, effort, and production that Bailey Shepherd and Ashley Earley provided at both ends of the floor was a big key. Ali Mowen knocked down some big shots and had several great reads at key moments on offense. Mara Posey came off the bench to finish the game and played some of her best basketball of the season. Our fans were great. Overall, an exciting, satisfying win.”
Against Bellbrook, Eaton struggled as they committed 35 turnovers and a two-point halftime deficit turned into a 19-point setback.
Shepherd led the way with a game-high 21 points and four rebounds. Mowen contributed nine on a trio of three-pointer shots and had two assists, two steals and two rebounds. Lexi Miller, who missed the previous two weeks with an injury, returned to score the other three points,
Earley had four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“Bellbrook applies pressure in a way that is just impossible to truly simulate, despite our best efforts in practice. We felt we had a good plan for attacking their pressure, but as it was, their pressure got the best of us. Most of the season we have done a good to decent job of managing turnovers,” Honhart said. “On Saturday we had way more turnovers than we have had in any other game this season, and that was the difference in the game. We talked about playing our game, but we wound up playing theirs. Instead of attacking their pressure, often it felt like we were just trying to survive it, and that leads to bad things on the basketball court. On this particular day, we got outplayed and out coached. Now our job is to bounce back and get stronger. I thought the effort and production that Bailey Shepherd provided was impressive, and Ali Mowen did a nice job of knocking down a few three-pointers on well-executed designed plays, along with finding Bailey in transition. Our half court defense wasn’t bad, but it needs to be a strength as it has been all season. Defensive rebounding also really hurt us. At times we looked like we really didn’t want to make contact on box outs. We’ll get back to being physical.”
Despite the loss, Honhart feels his team will learn from the experience.
“We are a good basketball team, and while we lost this game, we have still won 13 out of 15 games,” he said. “If we can learn and apply the lessons from Saturday, it will help make us a better team moving forward. Also, it was nice to get Lexi Miller back on the floor. After she got hurt a few weeks ago, we weren’t sure we would see that this season. She’s not 100 percent yet, but if she can get there, getting her back in the mix will make our team better.”
Eaton is scheduled to travel to Franklin (5-11, 3-7 SWBL) on Thursday, Jan. 23 and will visit league-leader Valley View (14-3, 9-0) on Saturday.
“Looking ahead, we have two big games,” he said. “We go to Franklin — it was a battle when we played here and we were able to pull away late. It will be important that we are mentally sharp and physically energetic. We will have to play well to win. On Saturday, we get our first shot against the league leaders in Valley View, so it will be exciting to see how we measure up.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr at 937-683-4056 or follow on Twitter @emowen_RH