ELMORE — In a battle of attrition, Eastwood sophomore guard Kayla Buehler scored 23 points to lead the Eagles to a 46-43 Northern Buckeye Conference win over Woodmore.
It is Eastwood’s first win against two losses and Woodmore’s first loss against two wins. Both teams are 1-1 in the NBC.
“Eastwood is a good team,” Woodmore coach Kyle Clair said. “There is your NBC for you — on any given night anybody can beat anybody, and it is always going to be a battle.
“I was proud of our girls that we fought back and scrapped. We could have easily cashed it in when we were down six or seven. We battled and gave ourselves a chance. We had a good look at the end to tie it up.”
Eastwood senior guard Aubrey Haas closed the curtain on the Wildcats, scoring the game’s final three points in the final 25 seconds of play. It started on the Wildcats’ end of the floor.
On an offensive rebound and putback, Woodmore senior guard Sophie Blausey scored and was fouled, and her old-fashioned three-point play tied the game at 43-all with 38.9 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing possession, the Eagles beat the Wildcats’ full court press. A pass from senior forward Kaitlyn Luidhart to Haas gave her an easy layup with 25 seconds remaining.
Haas was then fouled pulling down a defensive rebound with 5.4 seconds remaining and made one of two free throws to put the Eagles up by three. A Wildcat baseline three at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
“Aubrey and Kayla stepped up and made some big-time plays for us,” Eastwood coach Nick Schmeltz said.
“Kayla Buehler, she played out of her mind tonight. She is capable of that. We’ve been trying to get that out of her,” Schmeltz continued.
“She can get to the rim, she can make free throws, she can knock down a three as she did tonight. She played well for us, and she was in foul trouble, too, so she was playing smart as well.”
Buehler said she would not have had the big scoring night without Haas, who finished with 14 points, six rebounds and eight steals.
“Aubrey is always there for me. She encourages me whenever I make a mistake, and I couldn’t do it without her. She is an amazing teammate,” Buehler said.
Eastwood shot well in the first half, making 12 of 23 field goals (52 percent), but the third quarter saw both teams combine for four field goals on 22 shots and commit a combined 12 turnovers.
Both teams’ full court press caused problems, and Eastwood won despite committing 22 turnovers and getting outrebounded 38 to 27, but the Eagles were able to settle for that
“Both teams were really good, and we knew it was going to be tough from the beginning,” Buehler said. “We just knew we needed to work hard, do our best and always play good defense.
“One of the challenges was boxing out and getting rebounds, but we overcame that, and we were able to hit the boards.”
It was the kind of game Clair thought it would be.
“We knew it would be a defensive battle. Both teams like to get up and down a little bit, put pressure on the perimeter,” Clair said.
“Our defense in the first half was pretty suspect. We let them get by us a lot. We talked about it and in the second half I thought we played better. We just couldn’t get anything going consistently on offense in the second half until late.”
Eastwood finished shooting 38% (16 for 42) from the field and 69% from the free throw line (11 for 16).
Woodmore shot 30% (16 for 53) from the field, 64% from the charity stripe (9 for 14) and had 18 turnovers. The Wildcats had 24 offensive rebounds, leading to two dozen second chance opportunities.
Blausey led the Wildcats with 20 points and eight rebounds and junior guard Jordan Beam scored just four points, but she had six steals and seven rebounds.
For the Wildcats, 6-foot-1 senior post Camryn Ivy scored eight and junior guard Macey Bauder had six points and three steals.
Woodmore junior forward Mackenzie Krukemyer and senior forward Autumn Bowen scored two apiece, and senior guard Sydney Wank added one point. Senior post Autumn Bowen did not score but had seven caroms.
For Eastwood, Luidhardt scored four, senior guard Paige Rost had three points and sophomore point guard Amelia Ward added two points.
“We were shorthanded tonight. That was a fun game, and we were missing three varsity girls, so we are a little banged up,” Schmeltz said.
“The players that played tonight, we played eight girls, but those girls battled like heck.”