Eagles grind out 45-33 win over Tinora


By Nicholas Huenefeld

Special to the Sentinel-Tribune

PEMBERVILLE — The Eastwood boys basketball team grinded out a 45-33 victory over Tinora in a low-possession Division III tournament opener on its home court Tuesday, advancing to face Liberty Center (16-7) on Friday for the sectional crown.

“I think we were really just locked in defensively,” Eastwood coach Jason Faykosh said. “We gave up a couple offensive rebounds to them.

“I would like to see those cleaned up a little bit, but overall I thought we won this game defensively holding them to 33. When you can do that, you’re giving yourself a great chance to win.”

Through three quarters, or 24 minutes, both teams combined for just 59 possessions. Defensively, despite giving up 11 offensive rebounds, the Eagles held Tinora to a 13-for-47 (27 percent) performance from the field, including a 4-for-19 finish from long distance.

“We went through multiple switches,” Eastwood guard Drew Luidhart said. “We switched. We doubled certain guys, doubled off certain guys. We just did anything we could to shut down their main scorers.”

After Tinora (10-13) scored on two of their first three possessions and led 4-0 through the game’s first four minutes, Eastwood outscored the visitors 24-7 and held their opponents to 3-for-17 shooting with four turnovers the rest of the half.

“Defensively, I thought we had a really good game plan,” Faykosh said. “We executed (it) pretty well. We knew who we wanted to guard and how we wanted to guard them. I thought we did a pretty good job holding them to 11 points at halftime.”

Junior Kadyn Donnell electrified the home crowd early in the second quarter, draining a 3-pointer from the right corner on the opening possession before driving through traffic on a fast break for a right-side layup two possessions later as the Eagles scored the first seven points to open up an 18-7 lead.

After Tinora trimmed the deficit to eight with just under five minutes left, Eastwood’s defense pitched a shutout the rest of the way. Dayquan Oliver nailed a 3-pointer with 2:57 left, and Andrew Badenhop tacked on a bucket down low with five seconds left as the Eagles took a 13-point lead into the break.

Luidhart and Donnell combined for 26 points off the bench for Eastwood with 13 apiece. The underclassmen duo combined for five 3-pointers to help the Eagles notch 21 of their 45 points from long distance.

“It was kind of a slower tempo game for a while,” Faykosh said. “We were able to slow it down because they kind of play the same way.

“We were really patient on offense and looking for great shots. We did a really good job of that … twenty-six points off our bench, that’s huge for us. We took care of the ball, got great shots and had some guys really step up.”

Eastwood (14-9) led by as many as 16 with 2:55 left in the third quarter as Donnell buried a three-pointer from the left corner on a fast break. After a timeout, Tinora responded with a 4-0 run over the final three minutes to outscore the Eagles 9-8 in the frame.

Aiden Rittenhouse, who scored a game-high 17 points, kept Tinora within striking distance in the fourth, draining a 3-pointer with 6:11 remaining. Moments later, Connor Welling added another from deep as the visitors pulled within nine with just under five minutes left.

Donnell, however, answered with a 3-pointer on the other end. Oliver then added back-to-back buckets down low to give Eastwood a 43-28 lead with 3:35 left.

“It seemed like every time they went on a run, we would answer with a big shot for ourselves,” Faykosh said. “It’s nice to see our guys step up and execute in a big game like that.”

Rittenhouse fired off another 3-pointer to pull his team within 10 with just over one minute left, but Donnell converted a layup on the other end for the game’s final points.

As a team, the Eagles didn’t commit a turnover for the game’s first 23 minutes. Oliver rounded out Eastwood’s double-figure scorers with 10 points while Badenhop chipped in five.

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