NEW CARLISLE, Ohio – Autumn Whirley wasn’t quite sure how Eaton ended up with possession, but when the ball was in her hands, the Eagle senior made the most of it.
Whirley hit a miraculous 3-pointer with about 8 seconds left in regulation, giving Eaton its only lead of the day and eventually sending the Tecumseh sectional championship opposite Kenton Ridge into overtime.
Unfortunately for Eaton, the Cougars prevailed, making just one more clutch play and taking a 53-51 overtime victory.
Jamari McDavid finished with a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Cougars into next Friday’s district championship at Mason.
The last rebound and two points came on the decisive putback with .5 seconds on the clock.
“Right now, we’re all feeling real heartbroken, because we were right in there with a really good team,” Eaton coach Dave Honhart said. “… They wound up making one more play than we did. Props to Kenton Ridge for getting out and jumping on us early and putting us in battle-back mode. Our girls showed such heart in coming back and fighting back and lots of different players making big shots in regulation and overtime to fight back there.”
The Cougars used forced 13 first-half turnovers from Eaton and led 14-10 after the first quarter, by as many as 12 points in the second and 26-19 at halftime.
Eaton got within 34-30 after three and Julia Titus hit a pair of free throws early in the fourth to tie the game for the first time, 34-all.
The game would be tied seven times in the final two periods alone, with baskets from Titus, Elizabeth Tolliver and a big 3-pointer from Danielle Karns.
McDavid hit three straight free throws to make the score 46-43, before Titus hit one to get Eaton within 46-44, and with the clock ticking down, the Eagles won a scramble just inside the baseline and sent the ball to Whirley for the 47-46 lead.
“I saw them kind of fumbling for the ball and then, as soon as we got out, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, yes,’ ” Whirley said. “… (A)s soon as I caught it, I knew I had to shoot it. I was open, shot it and just, craziness was going through my mind. I was so happy, I thought we had it in the bag, there were only 8 seconds left, I was like, ‘We have it, we have the momentum.’ “
But McDavid then hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 47 and force overtime. Baylee Bennett started the extra period with a three-point play and the Cougars never trailed again.
Tolliver had a team-high 15 points and added 11 rebounds, while Titus also had a double-double of a game-high 12 rebounds plus 11 points. Whirley also finished in double figures with 10 points, while Springmier and Karns each had five, Hannah Paulus three and Kristi Floyd two.
Whirley, Tolliver, Springmier, Karns, Floyd and Paulus graduate after helping Eaton set school records for victories each of the last three seasons, while advancing to sectional finals. They also brought the first two SWBL Southwestern Division championships to the program.
Whirley will play college basketball at Lawrence Tech, Karns and Springmier at Indiana University East and Tolliver at Wittenberg University.
“I honestly think that it’s great that we leave a legacy and we set bar for people,” Tolliver said. ” … I want other girls to be motivated by us and just see that you can, as long as you work hard, you can come to this point. I definitely think that next year, we’re going to still be good.”
EAGLES 51, OT
KENTON RIDGE (20-4)– Wilson 6 3-6 16, Bates 2 2-2 7, Bennett 2 1-3 5, Lacey 1 0-0 2, McDavid 8 7-11 23, Rogan 0 0-0 0, Jones 0 0-0 0, Schlenitz 0 0-0 0. TOTALS– 19 13-22 53.
EATON (21-4)– Springmier 2 0-0 5, Tolliver 6 3-5 15, Karns 2 0-0 5, Titus 4 3-4 11, Whirley 3 1-2 10, Bowman 0 0-0 0, Floyd 1 0-0 2, Paulus 1 0-0 3, George 0 0-0 0, Whitesell 0 0-0 0, Lipps 0 0-0 0. TOTALS– 19 7-11 51.
Kenton Ridge 14 26 34 47 53
Eaton 10 19 30 47 51
3-pointers– KR: 2 (Bates, Wilson); EHS: 6 (Whirley 3, Karns, Springmier, Paulis). Rebounds– KR: 39 (McDavid 10); EHS: 35 (Titus 12, Tolliver 11). Turnovers– KR: 17; EHS: 27. Fouls– KR: 12; EHS: 20. Fouled out– KR: Lacey; EHS: Titus.