EATON — A defensive change midway through the second quarter lifted National Trail to a 41-37 road win over Eaton on Monday, Dec. 14.
The Blazers turned an 18-15 halftime deficit into a 27-18 lead then held off the hosts for their second win of the season.
“I didn’t think we came out great in the first half and we had foul trouble in the first half, so that was troubling and I think that played into how bad we played in the first half,” Trail coach James Byrd said. “But I thought the second half we came out there and did really well, moved the ball, got some easy buckets. Defensively. I think the change helped us out, switching to the two-three helped us out, kept us out of some foul trouble too. It was nice to be able to just switch to that and do well with it.”
Junior Skyler Ward led the second-half charge. She scored nine of her game-high 11 points in the quarter as the Blazers opened the second half with a 12-0 run.
“I know she was very disappointed in how she played in the first half,” Byrd said. “It was written all over her face. But I thought her getting her hand on some balls, getting some steals, getting some layups really got her going. She can be a disrupter. I thought she kind of set the tone for the second half. Really just disrupting what they wanted to do in the half-court.”
The Blazers were able to extend their lead to as many as 12 (38-26) in the fourth quarter before Eaton rallied to get as close as three points.
Byrd said Molly Skinner and J’da Jackson played key roles on the boards. Skinner finished with 15 for the night, while Jackson had seven while battling early foul trouble.
“I thought that was a key,” Byrd said of the rebounding edge. “I think they’re a really good rebounding team. And I think they were obviously missing a key player, but they missed a lot of threes.”
Lexi Benedict and Jackson each added eight points.
Trail finished the game making 19-of-41 shots and pulled down 36 rebounds. Eaton, on the other hand, was just 12-of-50, including 3-of-22 from 3-point range.
Eaton was led in scoring by senior Kylee Kidwell with nine. Senior Alexis Miller added eight. Sophomore Olivia Baumann scored five and grabbed five rebounds. Junior Allison Mowen led the Eagles with nine rebounds and two assists.
“Give National Trail credit. They played very hard for 32 minutes and came in here determined to get a win,” Eaton coach Dave Honhart said. “When we were struggling on offense in the second half, they took advantage of it and built a lead. Ward and Jackson did a nice job finishing tough shots and their defense caused us to have a really tough night on offense. It is tough to win games when you have an EFG of 27.5 percent and log only 6 assists versus 19 turnovers. I have to do a better job of helping our players create easy shots and take better care of the basketball. This is not the result we wanted, but we will use it as motivation to grow and improve.”
Trail moved to 3-0 on the season after defeating Twin Valley South 41-31 on Thursday.
Eaton dropped to 2-5 after suffering a 47-43 loss at Franklin on Saturday.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 or follow on Twitter @emowenjr