In renewed ‘Battle of the Woods’, Eagles prevail 57-48


By Nicholas Huenefeld

Special to the Sentinel-Tribune

PEMBERVILLE — The Eastwood boys basketball team staved off multiple runs and made 13-of-19 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, holding off Elmwood 57-48 in a non-league matchup Tuesday.

“I thought it was a good win,” Eastwood coach Jason Faykosh said. “We had a little adversity. They went to a two-three zone, and in the second half, (they) started to box-in-one a little bit. That definitely slowed our offense down.

“We weren’t hitting outside shots, weren’t moving real well, but we found a way to battle through it. We made some adjustments at halftime and pulled out the win.”

Elmwood (6-16) made just one of seven from the field in the opening quarter as Eastwood scored seven of the first nine points and ultimately took a 16-7 lead early in the second frame. Kade Lentz answered with a three-pointer on the other end, however, spurring a 9-1 run from the Royals.

As they did multiple times, Eastwood (12-9) answered. After each team failed to break the tie, Kadyn Donnell buried a three-pointer to give the hosts a 20-17 lead at the break.

“That’s something we talk about a lot in practice and during games,” Faykosh said. “Basketball’s a game of runs. We’re going to go on some. They’re going to go on some. You can never get too high, too low. Just keep battling and do your job, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that tonight.”

Donnell’s three-pointer spurred an 11-3 run that gave Eastwood a 28-20 lead just over midway through the third quarter. Elmwood responded with a 6-0 run, but Drew Luidhart ended it with a 3-pointer and scored seven of his nine points in the quarter to give his team a 38-29 lead entering the fourth.

“They were tougher than us,” Elmwood coach Ty Traxler said. “They were mentally and physically tougher than us. I think they just kind of wore us down throughout the game.”

Down as many as 14 after a three-point play from Eastwood’s Andre Lewis early in the fourth, the Royals made one more push, trimming the deficit to just six in the final minute. The Eagles, however, iced the game from the line.

“We made a couple to get it down to six, but just couldn’t get over that hump,” Traxler said. “That’s kind of been our MO all season. We hang with solid teams, and then we just can’t close it out in the fourth quarter.”

A big reason for Eastwood’s ability to hold off Elmwood was the clutch second half play from Lewis, who had eight of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, and Luidhart, who had nine of his 14 in the third quarter. Drew Kachmarik added nine points overall as Eastwood finished 20-of-32 from the charity stripe.

“Drew Luidhart really stepped up,” Faykosh said. “We had a couple of guys struggling, weren’t hitting some shots from the outside. He stepped up, had a good game. Andre Lewis was going to the basket pretty well. He got us going a little bit when we stalled out. Those two guys really stepped up for us.”

Lentz, who recently became Elmwood’s all-time leading scorer, led the Royals with 15 points while Evan Barringer added 13. Freshman point guard Owen Traxler chipped in eight, including six in his team’s third-quarter run.

“I’ll give our kids credit,” Traxler said. “When you’re 6-16 and have a young team, we never quit fighting. We’re never out of a game.

“And even when we get down eight or 10, we always seem to storm our way back and figure out a way to make it interesting at the end. It’s just that we haven’t had those closing plays like we need to get wins.”

Both teams now open tournament play next Tuesday. Eastwood hosts Tinora while Elmwood heads to Van Buren. Both games are at 7 p.m.

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