For just the second time this season, the Oak Hill Golden Eagles lost a basketball game, as they were defeated by 3A No. 1 Northwestern 53-30 on Wednesday night.
But, even in the defeat, head coach Todd Law was incredibly pleased with how his team performed against a formidable foe.
In last year’s tilt with the Tigers, the Golden Eagles played timid basketball and were overwhelmed from the start. On Wednesday, however, it was totally different story.
“I thought a year ago, our kids played scared,” Law said. “They turned the ball over and we couldn’t get anything [going]. In the first quarter, we couldn’t get the ball past the half-court line against their press. They just absolutely manhandled us the entire game.
“Tonight was the polar opposite of that. To be honest, there’s probably not a game this year where I’ve been more proud of my team. We came out, scrapped, and fought right from the beginning, and we did not play intimidated.”
The Golden Eagles kept it close in the beginning, trailing only 10-8 after one quarter of play due in large part to breaking Northwestern’s press early in the contest.
But, with a chance with carry the momentum into the second half, a couple of costly miscues turned the tide of the game.
“We had two crucial, silly turnovers right at the end of the first half – the last two possessions – that led to two easy layups for them,” Law said. “It should have been one point game at half. Those were the turnovers that hurt tonight- the silly, unforced turnovers. We gave them two easy baskets to finish the half.”
The Golden Eagles kept pace with the Tigers in the third quarter, but their offense stalled in the final stanza and Northwestern pulled away down the stretch to secure the victory.
“We still battled really hard in the second half,” Law said. “We were only down nine and came out early in the fourth [and scored]. But, we just could not get shots to fall and we were missing on some uncharacteristic shots. It was a really hard fought game, we just kind of hit the wall going into the fourth quarter.”
For just the fourth time in two seasons, the Golden Eagles didn’t leave the court victorious.
But, Coach Law couldn’t have been any prouder of his team.
“It was great experience for our kids to play the third best team in the state,” Law said. “It makes us better, and I’m very encouraged that the kids now know how to beat a press and how to beat a good press. We took care of that issue tonight, and [again], I was really proud with the way we fought and how hard we played tonight.
“We have won a lot of games, but I’m probably proud of them the most in this loss in the way they came out and competed against an excellent basketball team. I saw some major steps forward tonight, and this will give our kids confidence in areas that we were not confident in coming into this game. We need to play teams like this – those are the teams that are going to make us better and help prepare us to do what we want to do this season.”
Jenessa Hasty led the Golden Eagles with 11 points, while Adrianna Trexler finished with seven points in the Golden Eagles’ loss.