EATON — A trio of players had career highs and the willingness to play unselfish team basketball has Eaton’s girls’ basketball team off to a 2-0 start.
The Eagles opened the season with a 50-33 win at Greenville on Friday, Nov. 19 and downed Southwestern Buckeye League foe Franklin 50-34 on Tuesday, Nov. 23.
“This group plays such good team basketball,” Eaton coach Dave Honhart said. “Everyone contributed. Olivia Orr made a couple tough shots at the rim, Allison Mowen ran the show and had four steals, eight assists (a career high) and only one turnover. Olivia Baumann had 10 rebounds, Juli Couch had five rebounds, Kyla Mize played smart basketball at finishing time and helped us go the entire fourth quarter without turning the ball over, and Kendall Miller hit a timely three.”
Honhart noted junior Lily Shepherd and senior Anna Kramer had career games as well.
“Within that team play, two players had the best games of their varsity careers — Lily Shepherd and Anna Kramer,” he said. “Lily tied her career high with 23 points, and set a career high with seven steals. Anna had her career high with 13 points. While it’s always nice to score, both of them made so many plays on defense and away from the ball with their effort and energy. That’s part of what is going to make this team fun to coach. Every night, it’s probably going to be different people who shine within an unselfish, team-oriented structure.”
Eaton used a 25-4 run, including a 16-0 spurt, spanning the end of the first quarter to the midway point of the second quarter to take control of the game.
Trailing 5-3 early, Eaton closed the first quarter on a 12-2 run for a 15-7 lead. The Eagles opened the second quarter with an 11-0 run for a 26-7 lead, all in part to the their defense.
”I was very proud of our players for the way they competed against Franklin. To a large extent we had to base our game plan off of last year’s film and the memories of our junior high coaches, as this was Franklin’s first game, and we knew they had good freshmen who would contribute,” Honhart said.
Eaton allowed Franklin to close to within 39-31 early in the fourth before going on a 11-3 run to close out the game.
”We talk about starting fast and finishing strong. We definitely did both,” Honhart said. “Now we’ve got to get better at controlling the middle. After building a big lead over the first 12 minutes, we got sloppy with the ball in the last four minutes of the second quarter and we stopped doing the little things at the level we expect of ourselves. That allowed Franklin to find their footing. We also went cold from the floor for a stretch. That’s kind of the way this game goes. If you let up on the little things and ball security, shots stop going in. I thought we did a really good job of buckling back down about 3 or 4 minutes into the 3rd quarter. Anytime Franklin made a run, I thought we did a great job of finding an answer before eventually pulling away. I thought our crowd was outstanding and definitely played a role in our win.”
Honhart praised his team’s defensive effort.
“I think the thing that impressed me the most was our dedication to pressuring on defense. Anytime you have 25 steals and force 32 turnovers against a solid well-coached team, you know you are getting after it on defense,” he said. “But to keep up that pressure at a time when shots weren’t falling was pretty impressive. Anyone who’s played the game understands how mentally tough it is to keep playing great defense when shots aren’t dropping and the offense isn’t clicking. Our mental toughness on defense over the middle eight minutes of the game is probably what made the difference between Franklin catching back up and us maintaining an eight to ten point lead. Eventually we wore them down and got some big steals and scores off the press at finishing time.”
On opening night, Eaton raced out to a 9-1 lead and never looked back in taking down the Green Wave.
Eaton held leads of 11-4, 23-10 and 39-19 after the first three quarters. The Eagles largest lead of the night was 48-24 with just under minutes to play in the game.
Shepherd and Mowen paced the Eagles with 16 points each. Shepherd also added two steals. Mowen had five steals and a pair of rebounds.
Baumann tossed in nine points and grabbed nine rebounds, while blocking four shots.
“I thought that it was an incredible atmosphere for a season opener,” Honhart said. “I loved our team’s energy, effort and teamwork at both ends of the floor. We wanted the game played at a fast paced and we wanted to put a lot of pressure on Greenville with both our defense and offense. We felt like we did a pretty good job of that. We are fortunate to return three players who’ve had a lot of experience and success in Allison Mowen, Olivia Baumann and Lily Shepherd. I thought all three of them played very well on Friday. They played very unselfishly, complimented each other’s games, and set the tone for our team.”
Eaton will face a pair tough tests this week. They were scheduled to host perennial league power Bellbrook on Monday and will travel Waynesville, another program used to success, on Thursday.
“From Day One, we have talked about being hungry to improve and compete every day. Nothing changes now. We have lots to work on, and we are excited to get better,” Honhart said. “Next up is Bellbrook on Monday night. For anyone who likes fast-paced, aggressive basketball, this will be a game to see. For years Bellbrook has run, and pressured. They have been one of the top programs in the league for a while. We’ve played a lot of close games with them recently, but it’s been since 2015 since we’ve beaten them. It is time to get that skeleton out of our closet.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr