NEW MADISON — Denny Shepherd likes the effort he sees from his team on a nightly basis, but the end results have been frustrating.
Eaton’s boys basketball team suffered two more of those frustrating losses at the Tri-Village Patriot Classic last week, falling to Troy Christian 62-49 in the first round and dropping a 42-34 decision in the consolation round the next night against Ansonia.
The tournament was held on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 28-29.
“To be honest with you, to allow [Ansonia] to only score 42 points, I thought the defensive effort was there,” Shepherd said after the consolation game. “Offensively, I think we were 5-of-15 from the free-throw line. If you’re going to win, you’ve got to knock down your free throws. To score nine points in the second half, you’re not going to win.
“At the end of the day, we can play all the defense we want, and hold the team to 42 points, and really, again, we had them in the 30s if we didn’t have to start fouling at the end. We’ve got to score. And we’ve got some things we’ve got to work on. Number one is confidence. It didn’t help not having Travis Pittman with us tonight, but we’ve got to take the games as they come and we have to have guys step up and make plays.”
Pittman missed the game after suffering an injury the night before.
It was the same both nights for the Eagles, who held a 25-23 halftime lead over Ansonia and still led 32-31 with just over a minute left in the third quarter.
Even with a six-minute scoring drought in the fourth quarter, Eaton was only behind 35-34 with just under two minutes to play. Ansonia scored the game’s final seven points for the final margin.
“I just feel like we never get into a flow. Nothing’s easy for us,” Shepherd said. “And I sometimes feel like, for a majority of our guys, it’s because they’re trying too hard. And they’re putting so much on every possession that we’re almost breaking the diamond. It’s frustrating for us.”
Senior Trevor Long paced the team in scoring with 13 points as senior Cameron Lewis added nine.
Against TC, Eaton held a 25-24 halftime lead and was up 36-35 before TC went on a 13-0 run to close out the third quarter to take control of the game.
“Well, I think they want to win so bad. They’re not checked out. They want to win so bad that I think they’re not playing in flow,” Shepherd said. “At the end of the day, all of our losses, I think we’ve competed in every game except for Valley View. Monroe, we took half of our varsity. But we’ve competed enough to win. It’s just their players make more layups and shots. I feel like the effort’s been there. The defense has kept us in a lot of games. Closer than what it should be. We just got to score.”
Lewis led Eaton with 14 points, while junior Breyden Boston added 10 and grabbed six rebounds. Senior Travis Pittman tossed in seven points, grabbed six rebounds and had three assists. Long added 10 points and eight rebounds. Junior Clayton Kiracofe contributed six points with four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Eaton (1-6, 0-2 SWBL) was scheduled to host Bellbrook on Tuesday, Jan. 5 and Franklin on Friday, Jan. 8. They will close out the week with a trip to Oakwood on Saturday, Jan. 9.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 or follow on Twitter @emowenjr