EATON — In a week that started and ended with losses, Eaton’s girls basketball team picked up a key win in between.
The Eagles, which lost to Monroe 42-24 on Monday, Jan. 11 and 39-27 on Saturday, Jan. 16, knocked off SWBL Buckeye Division leader Madison 45-42 on Thursday, Jan. 14.
Eaton (5-8, 3-5 SWBL Southwestern Division) got a career-high 20 points and 14 rebounds from sophomore Olivia Baumann in the win over Madison.
“What a great team win. To go on the road to the first place team in the [SWBL] Buckeye Division and knock them off was a great feeling. This was a total team win,” Eaton coach Dave Honhart said. “We had great runs to open both halves. Both times Madison fought their way back. Having lost four games by a total of 12 points this season, it’s fair to say we’ve struggled to get over the hump and win close games. This time we came through, and I am so incredibly proud of our players. They are strong young women and they are so dedicated to each other and to our culture. They do everything we ask as coaches and they deserve success.”
Eaton took an early 7-0 lead and held a 14-8 advantage after the opening quarter. Madison opened the second quarter with an 11-2 to take a 19-16 lead. The Mohawks held leads of 21-19 and 23-21 before Baumann connected on a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Eagles a 24-23 lead.
Eaton led by as many as nine in the third quarter, 36-27, before Madison rallied to get within 36-35 after three.
“Obviously you have to acknowledge that Oliva Baumann flat out dominated with 20 points and 14 rebounds. [She] scored on post entries, basket drives and short jumpers. Her three-pointer at the second quarter buzzer gave us the halftime lead and momentum.” Honhart said.
Her three-pointer with three minutes to go in the game gave Eaton a 45-40 lead and turned out to be the last points of the game.
“Fittingly, the game ended with her corralling the final rebound just before the buzzer,” Honhart said. “Our starting back-court also has to be acknowledged. Allison Mowen had six assists while Kylee Kidwell had four. Kid also said she got a tiny piece of Ella Campbell’s final three point attempt with five seconds left. The shot was on line but short, so that tiny piece of leather that Kid got may have made the difference. Regardless, it was a great close out to contest the shot without fouling.”
Honhart said sophomore Lily Shephard re-entered the game with four minutes to go and played her best basketball of the night when it counted the most.
“She had a great assist on [Baumann]’s go ahead basket to make it 42-40. She also came up with a key steal, block and deflection,” he said.
Honhart said all 11 players who dressed for the game contributed in some way.
“All 11 players played and made their minutes count. This is the first time that we have given ‘real’ varsity minutes to Addy Satterfield and Gracie Copper,” he said. “Addy had an offensive rebound and Gracie had a steal. The two of them have been such incredible team players this year. They are the only freshmen who ultimately came out for basketball in this season that has taken place in the midst of a global pandemic.”
Honart said they’ve only been playing two quarters in JV because of low numbers, and since varsity games have been close, the duo has had little time playing in varsity.
“Instead of pouting, like I’m convinced 99 percent of players would do, they have embraced the fact that they’ve been fast-forwarded to varsity, and they come to practice each day determined to treat practices like game day,” he said. “They are enthusiastic and work to make their teammates better while getting better themselves. They are two of the best team players I have ever coached, and I’ve been doing this a long time at a lot of levels. They make our team better.”
Senior Alexis Miller added eight points, four rebounds and two steals. Mowen tossed in six points, six rebounds and six assists. Kidwell contributed six points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
The Eagles opened the week at home with its first loss to Monroe.
Eaton struggled against the Hornets’ pressure, committing 13 first-quarter turnovers, and fell behind 21-2 after the first quarter.
“I thought Monroe came out very hungry and focused,” Honhart said. “Their defense was outstanding and frustrated us all night. We actually played pretty good defense other than a stretch over the last three minutes of the first quarter when we gave up 15 unanswered points. Even then, I felt it was less about the defense and more about them finding good shots in transition after they forced turnovers.”
Honhart said he team could have folded after the not so good start.
“To our players’ credit, after falling way behind at the end of the first quarter, we could have given up on defense. Instead we held them to 21 points over the last three quarters. We just could not get anything going against Monroe’s defense,’ he said. “I’m sure we were tired after playing uptempo games the previous Thursday and Saturday, but it’s my job to figure out how to help us overcome that, while still playing the uptempo style that suits us best. Everyone in the sport is going to be tired over the next month with the way that games are piling up.”
Eaton trailed 30-11 at the half, and was down 35-13 after three.
Miller paced the Eagles with six points and two rebounds. Shepherd, Julianne Couch, Kidwell and Kylee Pitsinger each scored four. Baumann led the team with six rebounds, while Mowen added four steals.
In the final game of the week, a trip to Monroe, another slow start and a nearly 20 minute scoring drought did in the Eagles.
A free throw by Pitsinger with 5:39 left in the first quarter tied the game at 3-all. That was the last Eaton points until the 2:02 mark of the third quarter. Monroe built a 23-3 halftime lead and was up 27-3 when Baumann scored off an offensive rebound.
The Eagles trailed 29-11 after three quarters and rallied to get within 10 (36-26) and had a chance to cut the lead to single-digits with just under two minutes left.
“Well, we went into this game with a ‘Rocky’ theme. I had our players Google the basic plots of Rocky and Rocky II. For those in my generation, you know that the movies are similar but the outcomes are different. Rocky gets payback on Apollo Creed in the second film,” Honhart said.
“Well, we didn’t quite get payback in the second game, but the plots sure looked similar. Once again, we struggled to score against their defense. Eventually, we got our offense clicking and made a nice run over the last 12 minutes,” he said. “Monroe is a very good team overall, and they are exceptionally good on defense. Their players fit together very well and make each other better. They remind me of our team last year in that sense, and I see us starting to get to that point with this year’s team.”
Despite the struggles on offense, Honhart said his team continued to battle on the defensive end.
”What impressed me about Saturday’s effort is that we never stopped grinding on defense. If you had told me that we would have held them to 23 points at halftime in a game where both teams are pressing, I’d have taken that. If you told me that we would continue to press throughout the game and ultimately hold them to 39 points, I’d have been certain that we would have won,” he said.
“Unfortunately, Monroe’s defense was even better than ours. But I am so proud of the way our players kept locked in. Most times in basketball when the ball just won’t go in the basket, eventually you give up on defense. We had three points midway through the third quarter. I’ve never experienced anything like it,” he said. “But our players kept fighting, and if the game had been two minutes longer, I believe that it would have gotten very interesting. Twelve days ago our players set a goal to win at least three of the next five and they accomplished it. Now we’ll see what we can do with the next five games.”
Baumann paced the Eagles with eight points and nine rebounds. Shepherd added seven points.
Pitsinger added five points, five rebounds and five steals and Miller pulled down seven rebounds.
Eaton is scheduled to play three games in four days, set to host Ross on Wednesday, Jan. 20, Bellbrook on Thursday, Jan. 21 and Franklin on Saturday, Jan. 23.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 or follow on Twitter @emowenjr