Rockets’ stingy D holds Eagles in check, 37-22


By Yaneek Smith

Special to the Sentinel-Tribune

PEMBERVILLE — Bad shooting nights are a part of the game, and a stout defense can give a team that isn’t shooting really well the chance to still win.

That was the case in Oak Harbor’s 37-22 victory over Eastwood, a game that saw both teams struggle offensively but the Rockets’ defense was ultimately the difference in the game.

Oak Harbor, which is 16-3 and 10-2 in the Northern Buckeye Conference, moved one step closer to winning the league championship and won its 10th straight game.

The Eagles (12-9, 8-5) didn’t score any points in the first quarter and trailed 22-8 at the half.

Oak Harbor guard/post Sami Tack scored all of the points in the first quarter as the Rockets took the lead for good on her first field goal, a putback, giving her team a 6-0 lead into the second quarter. She scored a game-high 12 points, as did her teammate, Brookelyn Tabbert.

The Rockets led 22-8 at halftime and 31-12 after three quarters. The closest Eastwood would get in the fourth quarter was 10 points. Oak Harbor coach Dick Heller said he could not have asked for more from his team’s defensive performance.

“Defensively, we played very well in the first half. We handled the pressure, made good passes and got good shots,” Hellr said.

“In the second half, we let them push us around a little bit. They made a run, give them credit. We walked into some double teams. The turnovers were a big part of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, we moved the ball up the court.”

Heller said Tack and Tabbert brought thier A-game when it was needed.

“Sami came out playing well early and did some good things for us. We just need her to be more consistent,” Heller said. “Brookelyn is a special player — she has a good awareness for the game.”

If the Rockets win at least one of their next two league games they will clinch at least a share of the NBC championship.

“If you don’t win these games, there’s no chance of winning a league title,” Heller said. “That’s what we’re looking at against Genoa.”

Eastwood assistant coach Stacey Loomis, who was filling in for head coach Brittany Butler, said her team made too many mistakes.

“Defensively, I think we executed, though we did have a few bad possessions,” said Loomis. “Offensively, we couldn’t execute. We didn’t do our part on the offensive end and we didn’t execute the game plan.”

Kayla Buehler led the Eagles with nine points and Paige Hoodlebrink scored five. Hoodlebrink’s three-pointer with 7:41 to play in the second quarter was the first Eastwood field goal, cutting the lead to 6-3. From there, the Rockets steadily pulled away.

It was the final home game for Buehler, Hoodlebrink, Reilly Might, Amelia Ward and Saylor King, a group that has accomplished a great deal on behalf of their school.

The Eagles are 4-4 in their last eight games with the season finale coming next Thursday against Maumee.

“I think we’re in a little slump right now,” said Loomis. “Since Christmas, we’ve been fighting (some obstacles). Our kids are fighting and staying focused. We have one more game and then the tournament (is here).”

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