EATON — Another busy week on the court for Eaton’s girls basketball team resulted in a non-league win and pair of league losses.
The Eagles opened their stretch of three games in four days with a 59-51 win over visiting Ross on Wednesday, Jan. 20 behind a 23-point performance from sophomore Lily Shepherd.
Eaton (6-10, 3-7 SWBL) dropped a 68-39 decision to Bellbrook a day later and suffered a 58-49 loss to Franklin on Saturday.
Against Ross, Eaton held a 16-12 lead after the first quarter and stretched its lead to 26-16 at the half.
After the Rams closed to within 26-22 early in the third quarter the Eagles went on a 14-0 run with four different players scoring. Eaton pushed the lead to 42-24 with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter, before Ross rallied to get with 10 at 44-34 by the end of the quarter.
Eaton’s lead never got below eight in the final quarter and was as high as 16 at 59-43 with just over two minutes left.
Eaton junior Allison Mowen tossed in 12 points to go along with four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Sophomore Olivia Baumann added seven points and nine rebounds. Junior Anna Kramer contributed seven points and senior Alexis Miller chipped in six points with six rebounds.
As team, Eaton shot 36 percent (16-of-45) from the field and forced 22 turnovers.
”This game is always a good rivalry and it was good to walk away with a win,” Eaton coach Dave Honhart said. “They play tough, hard-nosed defense. We had some nice runs at time, but to their credit, Ross kept fighting their way back in the game. Lily Shepherd had a career high 23 points and shot the ball well, going 7-for-14 from the field and 8-of-9 at the line.”
Against Bellbrook, Eaton kept pace with the SWBL Southwestern Division leader until early in the fourth quarter.
Eaton trailed 12-5 after one and 28-19 at the half. Eaton got as close as seven in the third quarter (32-25) but still trailed 44-34 after three.
In the fourth, Eaton trailed just 49-38 with just over six minutes left before the visitors went on a 7-0 run to take command at 56-38. An Eaton free throw with just under four minutes left made it a 56-39 game and was the home team’s final point of the night.
Up 58-39 with just over two minutes left Bellbrook cleared its bench, as did Eaton. In the final two minutes, Bellbrook outscored Eaton 10-0 for the final margin.
”Wow – what a hard-played game. The final score doesn’t tell the story of this game,” Honhart said. “Coach [Jason] Tincher has done an unbelievable job with this team. They are so well coached and play so hard. For the first three quarters of the game, I felt we matched their intensity. We really struggled to keep them off the offensive glass – I felt that’s why they were up 10 at that time. Early in the fourth quarter, they finally were able to pull away a little bit and when we both put subs in, Bellbrook shot the lights out. Even with the loss, I was very proud of our players’ effort.”
Alexis Miller had six points, eight rebounds, two assists and was 4-of-4 at the free-throw line. Mowen was 4-of-6 from the field and 3-of-5 behind the line to lead the team with 11 points. Baumann contributed six points and three rebounds. Shepherd added five points and three rebounds.
Against Franklin, leading 18-17, Eaton allowed an 11-3 run in the second quarter and was forced to play from behind for the remainder of the game.
“I was so proud of our player this afternoon. It was our third game in four days,” Honhart said. “In every game, we played uptempo basketball. Our players were exhausted and yet they took their collective effort to a new level. We had our best rebounding and ball security efforts of the season. We got 85 percent of the defensive rebound opportunities and 32 percent of the offensive rebounding chances. Our goal is that those two numbers add up to 110. We had only nine turnovers which was just 12 percent of our possessions. Like Dean Smith used to aim for, we want that number under 20 percent.”
While the Wildcats shot over 50 percent for the game, the Eagles struggled making just 31 percent.
”We got good shots and did a pretty good job of contesting Franklin’s. Yet, we got beat. Generally speaking, that almost never happens with the way we played,” Honhart said. “Give Franklin tremendous credit. They were coming off a tough overtime loss to Valley View on Thursday. They could have been disspirited, but they were here to fight. We felt we had more depth than them, so we wanted to make it uptempo. We kept feeling like we could catch them and go by – it just never happened. They kept getting their shots to drop, and so many of our good shots found their way out. While the result was disappointing, I felt like we actually took a step forward as a team. If we keep bringing that effort and teamwork, good things will happen.”
Honhart said his team got balanced scoring on the night.
Baumann had 13 points and 17 rebounds.
“We had balanced scoring as six of our players all had at least two baskets,’ he said.
Seniors Kylee Kidwell and Miller each scored nine. Miller also had four rebounds. Kidwell added three rebounds and two assists. Shepherd contributed eights points, while Mowen chipped in with six points, five rebounds and two assists.
Eaton is scheduled to have another busy week this week, set to travel to Talawanda on Monday, Jan. 25. They will host Preble Shawnee on Thursday and visit Valley View on Saturday.
”I just want to praise our players for doing a fantastic job with everything related to properly wearing their masks in the weight room, when watching film and sitting on the bench in games. They’ve made it a non-issue and have done a great job with everything related to Covid protocol,” Honhart said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 or follow on Twitter @emowenjr