BROOKVILLE — Twice last week, Eaton’s girls basketball team used strong finishes to close out games en route to a pair of victories.
Eaton bested host Brookville 39-22 on Thursday, Dec. 3, thanks in part to a game-clinching 16-2 run over the game’s final 10 minutes, which included a 12-0 fourth quarter.
On Saturday, the Eagles soared to a 30-16 second-half advantage to knock off host Bradford, 56-39.
“I was proud of our players for continuing to improve and learn each other’s games,” Eaton coach Dave Honhart said. “In both games, it took us a while to get our competitive energy level up to where it needs to be. That will be a challenge this season for all teams with limited fans in the stands, but it is something we need to get better at. In both cases, we finished the games well, which is important to us.”
Against Brookville, the Eagles raced out to an 8-2 and never trailed. Eaton led 12-6 after one and 19-10 at the break.
The Blue Devils battled back to get within 23-20 late in the third before Eaton went on its game-ending run.
“We wanted to put pressure on their guards and limit how many quality touches Malerie Ross got and I thought we did that well,” Honhart said. “Cassidy Stacy hurt us around the rim. We struggled defensively for the first four minutes of the third quarter. After we switched to our 3-2 zone, our players seemed much more connected on defense and pitched a shutout in the 4th quarter that allowed us to pull away.”
Junior guard Allison Mowen led the Eagles with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists. Sophomore Lily Shepherd tossed in six points and junior Anna Kramer chipped in with five. Sophomore Olivia Baumann led the team with six rebounds. Junior Julianne Couch tossed in four points to go along with three rebounds and two assists. Senior Alexis Miller also contributed four points.
The win was the first of the season for Eaton.
Against Bradford, Eaton trailed briefly 3-2 before taking the lead for good just two minutes into the game. Eaton held an 11-9 lead after one and was up 26-23 at the half.
Bradford made it a 26-25 game early in the third quarter before the Eagles took control with an 11-0 run. Eaton extended its lead to 42-29 after three and led by as many as 19 in the final quarter.
“We wanted to really limit their three-point shooting and right-hand drives. The Railroaders are a team that can light it up behind the line; they dropped in 10 three-pointers against Tri-Village on Thursday,” Honhart said. “I thought our players did a great job of playing together on defense by running them off the three-point line, allowing Bradford to only attempt 10 three-pointers total (making 3.) Austy Miller is always a handful to guard and I thought Kylee Kidwell and everyone else who guarded her did a good job of making her work for every shot she took. Cassie Mead has improved a lot – luckily we kept her from seeing too many open looks, seeing as she went 4-for-5 when she did shoot it. We had a clear height advantage as they were missing some of their posts and we did a good job of getting Olivia Baumann the ball around the rim.”
Shepherd paced Eaton with 15 points, five rebounds and two steals. Baumann had a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds. Mowen tossed in nine points to go along with five assists and four rebounds. Kidwell tossed in four, with three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Kramer finished with six points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Sophomore Kendall Miller tallied five points and two rebounds.
Honhart noted he has seen growth from his team each week.
”One of the fun things about coaching is seeing teams come together. We did a lot of growing this week. I believe in giving players a lot of freedom on offense. We mainly teach principles and emphasize how to play off of each other’s strengths,’ he said. “Early in the season, that can lead to some rough offensive possessions. As the season goes on, that’s when you see things come together more each week, and I feel like our players are starting to do a better job of creating space on the court and putting each other in positions to succeed.”
Eaton, now 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division will get another big test this week as they are scheduled to travel to Bellbrook on Thursday, Dec. 10
“This week we go to Bellbrook and that’s always a measuring stick game. They’ve been one of the top programs in our league for a while and we are excited to go in there, compete with them and try to come away with a W,” Honhart said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 or follow on Twitter @emowenjr