WEST ALEXANDRIA — Eaton had it’s opening game of the season circled on the calendar for more than it just signifying the beginning of basketball season.
The Eagles still had last season’s one-point loss to Twin Valley South fresh on their minds and they wanted to make sure it didn’t happen two seasons in a row.
Eaton relied on its defense to topple the host Panthers 45-23 on Friday, Nov. 25 in the season opener for both teams.
“Well, we’ve been thinking about this game for 365 days,” Eaton coach Sean Sims said. “It’s been a sour taste in our mouth since we lost to them by one point last year. So, we kind of had this game penciled on our calendars. No need to try to hype them up. They were very hyped as it was. It’s a county game. It means a lot, stomping grounds, respect, all that stuff.”
Eaton held a 9-8 lead after the opening quarter then held the Panthers scoreless for nearly seven minutes in the second quarter to take a double-digit lead into halftime, 22-12.
South shot just 2-of-13 in the second quarter and 5-of-21 for the half, while committing 11 turnovers.
Eaton pushed its lead to 30-16 with just over 2 minutes left in the third quarter as South continued to struggled shooting. The Panthers made just 4-of-12 in the quarter.
In the fourth, Eaton forced four straight Panther turnovers and more cold shooting into a 45-20 lead.
South didn’t score in the final quarter until there was 36.5 seconds left.
For Eaton, the offense took a while to adjust to the Panthers zone defense.
“We somewhat kind of prepared for them to maybe go in a zone defense,” Sims said. ‘So we didn’t do as much and practice for that, but enough, and they came right out of the gate in a zone. It took some time to kind of get adjusted to that tempo, the pace, the defense.”
As for his team’s defense Sims was pleased.
“Defensively, we were pretty good. So, if we continue to play good defense, we’ll be okay,” he said. “We spent a lot of time in practice focusing on defense. It’s a crucial component to the game and we know that we have to be good at that in order to be a successful basketball team. We pride ourselves on our defense. So, we definitely want to make sure we put a lot of pressure on the guards, good ball pressure.”
Eaton was led Ramy Ahmed with 10 points and nine rebounds. Carson Janney, Beau Miller and Grant Miller each added six. Beau Miller also grabbed six rebounds. Preston Orr led the team with seven rebounds.
For South, Jace Thuma led the way with seven points, while Jandon Ankrom tossed in six.
Braxston Campbell, South’s fist-year coach, thought his team competed but is still having players adjusting to new roles and a new coaching staff.
“We were really encouraged by the effort. We thought the effort was there, guys we’re pumped up,” he said. “This year we’re having guys have to step up in some bigger roles. And for some, it’s some newer roles. First home game and we were we’re ready to rock and roll.”
Campbell said his team is continuing to grow.
“A couple things that go our way during the game and I’m trying to preach to these guys that’s part of life. Hats off to Eaton. I think they played physical, hard-nosed, made challenging for us,” he said. “We’re looking for growth. I think at the end of the year we want to be playing our best basketball and we felt encouraged this was a step in the right direction, even though this score doesn’t look like that.”
The Panthers bounced back on Saturday handing Yellow Springs a 59-44 defeat.
Eaton was scheduled to host Franklin in a Southwestern Buckeye League game on Tuesday for its only contest of the week.
South was scheduled to host Legacy Christian on Tuesday and will travel to Newton for its Western Ohio Athletic Conference opener on Friday, Dec. 2.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.