EATON – Arcanum outscored Eaton 17-5 in the second quarter, used its full-court defense to generate 8 points in the last minute of the first half to break open a close game and went on to claim a 54-39 non-conference road win.
It was a very slow start with both teams running a lot of time off the clock on each possession, and Eaton would hold a 9-7 first quarter lead.
Lane Byrne scored 5 of the 7 points for Arcanum including a triple from the top of the key to pace the Trojans.
Byrne tied the game at 9 with a fielder early in the second quarter, and then Arcanum took the lead 12-9 when Isaiah Hootman connected on a triple at 4:39.
Eaton was focused from the outset on leading scorer Carter Gray and face-guarded the young man the entire night, switching multiple defenders to stay fresh.
“He is going to see a lot of face-guarding. We try to get him into the post a little more and run backdoors to try and alleviate it a little bit. To his credit he didn’t try to do too much and was calm, cool and collective. He continues to grow and mature and did a really good job on the defensive end, especially at the point in our zone, which is a critical part. He has to talk and communicate with everyone, and he’s come a long way in terms of communication and doing the little things right,” Arcanum boys basketball coach Marcus Bixler said.
When you take away one thing, it opens up something else, and the Trojans were content pounding the ball inside.
First it was Byrne and then Grant Delk, who scored 7 of his 10 points for the game in the second quarter.
“I thought Delk worked extremely hard tonight. He can score with his back to the basket but also can face you up and has a really good first step, and he had couple nice ones tonight. Over the last three or four games has played well and to have him to continue to improve is big for us,” Bixler said.
Defensively Arcanum had Eaton confused, switching from man-to-man to zone and eventually full-court pressure near the end of the second quarter that generated 8 quick points at the end of the first half.
Arcanum’s defense was real good holding the Eagles to just 2 points up until a last-second, 40-foot bank shot from the Eagles to end the half 24-14.
“We got some stops there at the end of the first half, and the nice thing about having our guards back (Hootman and Wade Meeks) is we can go a little more transition than earlier in the year. That’s important to us to find a way to manufacture some easy baskets where we can go on an 8 or 10-point run,” Bixler said.
After the break Eaton was a little more focused on denying the ball into the post, but Evan Atchley helped take up some of the slack on a triple and a drive to the rim for 5 of the Trojans’ 11 points in the third quarter.
The Trojans started the quarter playing very solid on defense, communicating, moving their feet with active hands, frustrating Eaton, and after almost one-and-a-half minutes the Eagles called a timeout.
After showing such promise on the defensive end, Arcanum started to show some mental fatigue, and Eaton started to find success driving into the lane, scoring 9 points in the third quarter, but still trailed the Trojans 35-23.
Arcanum built a 15-point lead for much of the final stanza … but Eaton would make one final push with James Howard hitting a couple of 3-pointers and 8 points in the quarter to trail 46-37 at the 1:40 mark, but the Eagles would get no closer.
“Someone has to step up for us. We had three or four possessions in a row where we broke down on both ends of the floor mentally. It was nothing physical, just simple things we have been doing since day one. We had a couple turnovers on the offensive end because we weren’t where we should be then gave up uncontested 3s and a layup, and all of a sudden we go from being up 15 to 9. We have to negate those errors in the future to be successful,” Bixler said.
Arcanum would convert nine-for-13 free throws and get 6 points from Andrew Baker late to hold off the Eagles for the 15-point win, 54-39.
“Tuesday night road games are always tough because it takes some guts to have intensity and get ready to come out and play. We made some mistakes mentally tonight … but we didn’t lack intensity. We came out here on a Tuesday night, hustled and played hard, and I’m proud of them for that, and it’s good to get the win,” Bixler concluded.
Atchley led the Trojans with 11 points, Delk had a double-double with 10-points and 12 boards, Baker chipped in 9 points and Byrne had 8.
Arcanum improved to 7-10 overall and will host Bradford in Cross County Conference action Friday night.
Score by quarters
AR … 07 … 17 … 11 … 19 – 54
EA … 09 … 05 … 09 … 16 – 39
Arcanum – Isaiah Hootman 3, Carter Gray 5, Wade Meeks 6, Evan Atchley 11, Andrew Baker 9, Zach Smith 2, Grant Delk 10, Lane Byrne 8; Totals 3-16-13/22 – 54
Eaton – Owen Baumann 4, James Howard 14, Aaron Tolliver 6, Travis Pittman 3, Hunter Frost 10, Chayse Gray 2; Totals 5-9-6/9 – 39