BELLBROOK — They weren’t filming Hoosiers II at Bellbrook High School on Friday night, but it sure seemed like it.
Playing the part of the fictional Hickory Huskers, Eaton was content to pass the ball around, be patient on offense, and take high-percentage shots. At times the coach could be heard shouting “only a layup.”
But the script changed in the fourth quarter and Bellbrook was able to make good on some halftime adjustments and escape with a 38-28 win in Southwestern Buckeye League action.
“It’s frustrating,” Coach Donnie Tate said of playing against an old-school, Princeton-style offense. “You try to tell the boys, ‘keep your heads.’ ”
Hayden Greene led a balanced attack with nine points, while Donnie Crouch added eight and Jack Campbell and Ethan Savey seven each.
The Golden Eagles (2-1 overall, 2-0 SWBL Southwestern) forced Eaton into five fourth-quarter miscues and got some scrappy play from T.J. Nagy (five points) off the bench to help complete the comeback.
Down 24-21 after three quarters (yes you read that right), Bellbrook outscored the other Eagles 7-4 in the first three minutes to tie the game. Nagy tied it with a picture-perfect three-pointer from the top of the key and then three minutes later he gave Bellbrook the lead for good with a layup after driving down the lane and nearly head-faking the defender out of his shoes. A minute later Crouch made a layup after a scrum for a loose ball that was started by a knock away by Campbell.
Crouch, Savey and Caleb Scott then clinched the win with a pair of free throws each down the stretch.
“We did some good things,” Tate said. “I think T.J. came in and did a couple nice things for us. He got some deflections. He gave us a little bit of a spark. We were able to force them into a couple turnovers.”
Bellbrook had jumped out to a 5-0 lead early after a pair of free throws from Campbell and a three-pointer from Greene. The Golden Eagles led 7-1 with three minutes left in the first after another bucket from Greene but the deliberate Eaton team scored six straight to end the quarter down just one.
The visiting Eagles continued to play the slow-down game in the second, taking a 14-10 lead midway through and a 14-12 lead at the half. The Golden Eagles put the halftime changes to work and forced Eaton (1-3, 0-1) to speed up, which ultimately allowed Bellbrook to get the win.
“We tried to stop letting them do that top pass,” Tate said. “Offensively we switched up. We were flashing guys from the short corner.”
It probably won’t win any academy awards, but Tate will take the win.
“A lot we can learn from this game,” he said.
Bellbrook hosts Valley View, Tuesday, Dec. 12. Eaton, which got 10 points from Aaron Tolliver, hosts Monroe that same day.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.