EATON — When Eaton’s girls basketball team hosted Carroll last week, it was a chance for the Eagles to see where they measured up against one of the top programs in the area and state.
Although the Eagles left with 32-29 setback on Wednesday, Dec. 30, the result left coach Dave Honhart’s crew believing they can compete with any team left on the schedule.
“Love the effort and a lot of the execution. Hate the result. I hate losing basketball games,” Honhart said. “I’m highly competitive as are all of our players, and yet we just played a championship program within three points, and we played our best game of the season without any doubt.”
Eaton rallied from a nine-point third-quarter deficit to get within a point late at 30-29. After a pair of Carroll free throws extended the lead to three, the Eagles still had a chance to tie the game and force overtime, but a last-second three-point attempt was blocked as time expired.
“We knew we were out of timeouts, we had 6.7 seconds to go. We got off a three. There are a couple things that probably, if we had more time, we could have run some better options there, but we had our best three-point shooter taking a three,” Honhart said. “They made a play and blocked it. And, you know, she took a risk, because you can foul in that situation and Ali’s a very good free-throw shooter, but I am proud of the way that we played, I’m not happy with the result.”
Despite the loss, Honhart feels his team is headed in the right direction.
“Even though we only scored 29 points, we actually executed on offense far better than we have been and that’s been a point of emphasis lately. So it’s nice to see that carry over,” he said. “Carroll’s an extremely good defensive team. So, as long as we keep building on that, that’s going to help. We have to develop some people who have a scorer’s mentality. That’s huge. Because we have plenty of people who can score the ball. But it’s learning how to have scorer’s mentality, out of the flow of the offense.”
Eaton fell behind 13-8 after the first quarter and trailed 19-17 at the half.
“Defensively, I mean, I could not be more proud of our players. A triangle and two is not easy to run. Yet it’s something we’ve gotten pretty good at and it fits our personnel,” Honhart said.
Eaton stuck with the triangle and two and a half-court trapping zone defense even as the Patriots begin to hold the ball and take time off the clock.
“They’re one of the best passing teams I’ve seen in a while. When they decided to try to run the clock out, I mean, they were making us look silly chasing the ball, and yet we stuck with and eventually got them to miss a couple, eventually got a few turnovers,” Honhart said. “And we didn’t give up open shots with the switch to the trapping zone. So very proud of our kids there.”
The loss was the third straight by four points or less for Eaton, which is now 2-6 on the season.
“We’ve had good practices lately. We just need to continue to build on that and we will get over the hump and win close games. You know we have experience with that last year. We need to get experience with it this year but we’ll get there,” Honhart said. “I think the mentality, with this game, is different than the others, because I think we know we can play now. I’m not sure that we necessarily knew we could play a complete game beforehand. We know that we can be mature enough to have the right mindset, which, that’s our slogan this season, so they know it’s important, but knowing it and doing it is a totally different thing.”
Honhart said he would like to see his team play with more urgency.
“What’s going to be interesting is we warned them that, ‘Hey, we’re very, very proud of you. That doesn’t mean tomorrow will be an easy practice. We’ve got to keep getting better, and what was good enough yesterday is not good enough tomorrow,’” he said. “So, we’ll see but we’ve got strong leadership. And they’re a very even keel team, which I think, at times, we need a little bit more fire and we saw some tonight. But that also helps us. We don’t overreact to things.”
Senior Kylee Pitsinger provided the team with a spark before suffering an injury in the third quarter.
“Kylee Pitsinger kind of took over the game for a little while at the top of the triangle. And she gets knocked out of the game with an injury there, but she definitely inspired her teammates,” Honhart said.
She scored six points, grabbed two rebounds and had a pair of steals coming off the bench.
Sophomore Olivia Baumann scored five points and grabbed eight rebounds.
“Olivia Baumann is such an absolute warrior. Part of what I love about coaching her is she is low maintenance, high production. She is starting to develop more of a scorers mentality. And she dominates the boards. She is a leader for us in the way that she plays,” Honhart said.
Senior Kylee Kidwell and junior Allison Mowen drew tough defensive assignments.
“I have to shout out Kylee Kidwell and Allison Mowen for the way that they guarded [Megan] Leraas and [Sarah] Ochs. They did a fantastic job there in addition to handling the ball,” Honhart said. “It is a total team effort.”
Mowen finished with six points, three rebounds and three steals. Kidwell added five points.
Senior Alexis Miller added three points and seven rebounds while junior Julianne Couch added two points and four rebounds.
Eaton was scheduled to host Ross on Monday, Jan. 4, but the game was postponed. The Eagles will next be in action on Thursday, Jan. 7 when they host Brookville and 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 @emowejr