Gary Peffly knew his team couldn’t win a league title last week with a win over perennial Southwestern Buckeye League power Belbrook. But he did know a win would go a long way toward his Eaton girls basketball team achieving one of its goals.
In a battle of the top two teams in the league, Eaton survived a defensive struggle and claimed a 41-33 win over the Golden Eagles on Thursday, Dec. 12, to move to the top of the league’s standings.
“We couldn’t lose the league championship tonight but if we won, it would be a positive step forward. Does this guarantee anything? No. We still got a lot of league games left. We’ll be able to judge this victory down the road. The Bellbrook game is now over we need to now focus on Saturday and we need to get ready for Franklin,” Peffly said moments after the game.
Peffly credited his team’s defensive play with the victory.
“Our defense was just outstanding. I thought we pressured them and made them work. I don’t think they expected us to play that great of defense. I was really proud,” he said.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well, according to the veteran coach.
“I really feel that both teams did not shoot the ball great. That could be because of the intensity of the rivalry,” Peffly said.
Eaton fell behind early, but ramped up its defense to take a 22-11 halftime lead.
Chea Taylor led Bellbrook with 15 points, while Hannah Songer, who entered the game averaging 14.5 points per game and made nearly half of her three-point attempts, was held to two foul shots, which came in the first quarter.
“I just think Kasey (Titkemeyer), Autumn (Whirley), Michelle (McKinney) and Libby (Springmeir) did an outstanding job defensively on the perimeter,” Peffly said. “We forced them to start their offense full court.”
Eaton was led by Danielle Karns, who scored 15 points. Liz Tolliver scored 10, with eight of those coming in the fourth quarter. Tolliver was key in clinching the game. She was 6-for-6 from the foul line down the stretch.
Whirley scored six points on a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter. She also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
There wasn’t much time to celebrate.
As soon the game ended, Peffly didn’t allow his team time to celebrate the win, instead turning the focus to the Fighting Eagles’ next opponent — Franklin.
Eaton hosted the Wildcats on Saturday and it turned out to be a one-sided affair.
Eaton raced out to a 29-4 first quarter lead and never looked back, cruising to a 64-14 win.
Eleven players scored for Eaton, who was led by Whirley’s 13 points. Springmeir scored nine, Karns added eight, while Tolliver scored seven and McKinney chipped in with six.
“Look at that balance. It’s awesome,” Peffly said.
Franklin made just six shots on the night.
“We disrupted their whole offense. That’s what is comes down to,” Peffly said. “We took their best players and took them out of the game. And when you take a team’s best players out of a game success can follow. I think that’s what happened.”
Peffly said he finally allowed his team to celebrate the Bellbrook win after Saturday’s game.
“You can’t sit there and celebrate on a victory when you’ve got something else you’ve got to get ready for,” he said. “We finally get to celebrate the Bellbrook victory. I wouldn’t let them the other day.”
Eaton, now 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the SWBL, will put its unbeaten mark on the line this week as they battle Talawanda and Valley View. They will play Richmond, Indiana next week.
“Those are three quality opponents we’re going to have to play,” he said.
“It’s been a great week. When you beat Bellbrook, I can sit back and look now. That was a great win for our program. There’s a lot of basketball left. Even though it was a great win, an important win for this program, we can’t let that be the the signature win. We want to win the league. I can’t say enough good things about them right now.”