Eastwood poised to finish strong in league, tourney

J. Patrick Eaken

Eastwood boys basketball knew it had a tough weekend in store facing Fostoria and Oak Harbor, but they got a split — defeating the Redmen 68-54, but losing to the Rockets, 51-41.
        Coach Todd Henline will take the win over Fostoria because that at least keeps the Eagles in the hunt for a Northern Buckeye Conference title. The Eagles scored 26 fourth quarter points to avenge a 69-48 loss earlier in the season. Isaac Badenhop, a 6-0 junior shooting guard, scored 16 of those 26 points, including four three-point goals, and finished with 24 points.
        Eastwood is 12-3 overall and 7-2 in the NBC, but trails league leader Rossford (13-1, 8-0) by two games.
        “The season is going pretty well so far,” Henline said. “I thought we had a chance to be good and to be honest, the kids have really come together and played well and we found different ways to win this year. I think last year going through some adversity helped them fight through some of the stuff this year.
        “To be honest, we are not very deep but this is a pretty tight group. We have pretty good team chemistry and that’s really showing up on the court. We have different guys scoring for us on different nights, and guys have moved positions and had to roll with the punches, so to speak, but to this point it’s a pretty good season,” Henline continued.
        “We haven’t been able to beat Archbold in five years and that was a big win for us (57-54 in overtime) going to their place and their environment. We still have some pretty good competition ahead that hopefully will get us ready for the tournament.”
        At least two teams will have to knock off Rossford for the Eagles to win the league. Eastwood almost did it when the two met on the Eagles’ floor, losing 57-54.
        “We talked about taking some things away from them and I thought our kids had a pretty good focus that night. In order to beat a good team, I thought we turned the ball over too many times and then in the second half we had some defensive breakdowns,” Henline said. “As a whole, I was pleased with our effort. I thought we played well offensively and we shot the ball well that night. They are a good team and they made some plays down the stretch.”
        The two will meet again in Rossford’s new field house on Feb. 7.
        Six-foot-3 sophomore forward Jacob Meyer is averaging 13.5 points, 2.4 assists and over eight rebounds per game and 6-2 senior point guard Jacob Halko is averaging 11.3 points.
        Meyer has made 64.2 percent of his field goals and is 79.6 percent from the free throw line. Halko is shooting at a 42.4 percent clip from the field, 77.3 percent from the charity stripe and 33.9 percent from behind the three point arc.
        Meyer brings with him good athletic genes — he is the younger brother of Bowling Green State University first team All-Mid American Conference volleyball player Katelyn Meyer.
        “We’ve really been pretty balanced,” Henline said. “Jacob Meyer has really come on for us from last year. He played a little for us as a freshman, but didn’t start. He got plenty of playing time at the varsity level, got some experience, and this year’s played pretty well for us. He can jump out of the gym. He’s got springs in his shoes, man. He can get up.”
        Halko heads up a group of veteran ballplayers that include 6-0 senior point guard Noah Henline (5.1 pts.), Badenhop (5.6 pts.), 6-2 senior forward Christian Peters (9.7 pts.), 6-0 senior Griffin Coffield and 6-3 senior Caleb Peters. Most of them got valuable varsity playing time last year.
        “I think that has helped us. They’ve played a lot of games together and they kind of know what each other does and they do it. I would say the two things that thrive for us is our experience. We got some valuable experience last year, especially with the teams on our schedule,” coach Henline said.
        “To be honest, that’s why I schedule them. We need to play tough competition because that forces you to get better. With the likes of two games against Genoa, Ottawa-Glandorf and Archbold — those teams year-in and year-out are pretty solid.”
        There have been some rough patches, too, like having to come from a double digit deficit to defeat Otsego, 50-49. A strong finish demonstrated the team’s resilience, however.
        “We dug ourselves a pretty good hole the first half. They were 7 of 8 from three in the first half and they were up 16 at half. Really, our strength all year has been we’ve been pretty solid defensively. Now, in that game they hit a shot at the end of the first quarter and a shot at the end of the second quarter. We were right there. It’s just that the kid made a heck of a play on it, so really instead of being down 10 we are down 16,” coach Henline said.
        “We talked about it halftime, not panicking and playing one possession at a time. I thought we tried to pressure them in the first half and I think our pressure allowed their three point shooters to go off a little bit, so in the second half we talked about just getting back and forcing them to score out of their offense. We cut into the lead, had it down to eight in the third quarter at one time and then going into the fourth we were down by 10.
        “Plus, this is one of the games, and we’d played 12 games and fortunately we hadn’t been in foul trouble, but this game we were in foul trouble. We were forced to do some different things but to the kids’ credit they stayed the course and then we executed some plays down the stretch and were able to come out with a ‘W’. Down 16, we were forced to dig our way back. That was a huge game for us.”


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