Eagles keep pace in league with hard-fought win over Southern

Southern and United Boys Basketball

HANOVERTON, Ohio (WYTV) – It can be easy to give up when the chips are down, but for the United Eagles they responded by battling back to revenge an early-season loss to the Southern Indians in a 45-40 victory Tuesday night at home. The Eagles had lost to the Indians by ten points back in December.

The win improves the Eagles to 11-4 overall and a league-leading 9-2 in the EOAC. The Eagles are tied with Toronto at the top of the league standings. The Indians drop to 8-7, 4-6 in the league.

“This one was huge,” Eagles senior guard Dakota Hill remarked. “We need to keep winning like this if we want to stay in first place. It’s just huge.”

With the Eagles holding what looked like a commanding 11-point lead at the intermission. They pushed the lead to 13 following an uncontested layup by Kaden Smith a little more than a minute into the second half. Unfortunately for the Eagles that was the last basket they would see for over five minutes as the Indians came storming back.

The Indians would go on a 14-2 run to start the second half as they grabbed their first lead of the contest since the first quarter at 36-35 with 1:35 remaining in the third period. After both teams exchanged baskets, the Indians held a 38-37 lead at the end of the frame.

“I just told them we need to take one possession at a time,” Indians coach Gerald Grim said of this halftime instructions. “In the second quarter, we got a little wobbly and let them score at a quicker pace then what we were hoping to play at. In the second half, we knew if we just sat down and played good man-to-man defense we would be able to chip away at it.”

“It was effort,” Eagles head coach Chris Kadvan admitted. “We controlled the game in the first half, we dictated how the first half went and the difference is that they dictated how the third quarter went.”

But the Eagles regained control as they turned up the defensive effort in holding the Indians to just one bucket in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Parker Hydrick netted two inside baskets to help propel the Eagles in grabbing a 3-point 43-40 lead with 4:16 remaining. After the Indians turned the ball over a couple times and missed a couple free throws, the Eagles put the finishing touches on the game with a bucket with just 2:40 remaining to reach the final 5-point margin.

“Same situation happened against Wellsville,” Grim said of his team’s miscues in the final frame. “We had three cracks at it up by one to win that game with two minutes to go and we missed free throws and missed two opportunities. The same thing happened tonight, we had a missed layup and a couple turnovers and we missed four free throws.”

“We let them back into the game. We were just down and let them come back,” Hill explained. “We really came back in the fourth quarter with a new fire and we got it back up and just rode the hat from there.”

“It’s all about how we respond,” Kadvan said about the Eagles fourth-quarter turnaround. “We can go two different ways, we can pout about it and let them control the game or we can respond. In life in general things don’t go your way. There are certain things you can’t control, it’s all about how you respond as a person. And we responded well as a team.”

The two teams exchanged the lead several times in the opening period of the game before the Eagles started to pull away courtesy of two driving baskets by Dakota Hill to make it 16-12 at the end of the stanza. Hill would continue to score from inside the paint in the second quarter as the Eagles went on a 15-6 run to pull out to a 31-18 lead with just 1:47 left in the half. Hill would score all his game total points in the first half.

“I was able to get the ball and push it, and just take (advantage) of the opportunity that was given,” Hill described the first half. “They played a lot better help defense (in the second half) when I was trying to attack.”

The loss overshadowed a tremendous performance by Indians senior forward Ethan West who scored a game-high 16-points. Dominic Pugliano and Jayce Sloan would each grab 5 rebounds to lead the Indians on the boards.

The Eagles were paced by a trio of players scoring in double-digits. Both Parker Hydrick and Dakota Hill knotted 13, while Kaden Smith scored 12. Landon Baker dominated on the boards for the Eagles with 9 caroms.

Next up for the Indians is a home game Friday night against East Palestine. The Eagles will have a crucial league game at Wellsville Friday night.