TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — The Wildcats weren’t about to get trapped in ‘The Nest’ again.
The Eastern boys basketball team — which knocked off Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division foe Waterford in overtime the last time they met in Meigs County — dropped a 45-30 decision to the Wildcats on Tuesday at ‘The Nest’, giving the Eagles their first league loss of the season.
Eastern (4-2, 3-1 TVC Hocking) took a 2-0 lead four seconds into play and, after a 2-2 tie, jumped out to a 6-2 advantage with 4:45 left in the first.
Waterford (5-1, 5-0 TVC Hocking) — joined by Trimble as the only TVC Hocking teams without a league loss this season — ended the period with a 12-to-2 run, leading 14-8 at the end of the first period and never trailing again.
The Wildcat lead grew as many as 15 points in the second quarter, and the guests settled for a 13-point, 27-14 advantage at halftime.
Waterford scored the first six points of the second half, holding the Eagles off the board for four minutes. The WHS lead was at a game-high 21 points, at 39-18, with 1:19 left in the period, but Eastern scored the last three points of the third and the first two of the fourth, cutting the margin to 39-23 with 7:25 to play.
The WHS lead never dipped below 15 in the finale, as the Wildcats wound up with a 45-30 victory.
Following the setback, first-year EHS head coach David Kight acknowledged his squad wasn’t ready for the Wildcats and shouldered the blame for his team’s performance.
“We scored right off the bat, and it was kind of like we relaxed,” Kight said. “Instead of being up on the balls of our feet, we were back on our heels. That’s my fault, I didn’t have them chomping at the bit, ready to play. I’ll take the blame for tonight’s loss. I promise the Eastern Eagle fans that that’s never going to happen again in my reign here as the head coach.”
The Eagles shot 13-of-46 (28.3 percent) from the field, missing all-12 of their three-point tries. Waterford sank 16-of-38 (42.1 percent) field goal attempts, including 3-of-11 (27.3 percent) three-point shots. At the free throw line, EHS was 4-of-9 (44.4 percent), while WHS was 10-of-14 (71.4 percent).
The Wildcats won the rebounding battle by a 30-to-20 clip, despite the Eagles claiming a 10-to-7 edge in offensive boards. Eastern finished with team totals of eight assists, 11 steals, two blocks and 15 turnovers, while the guests collected 13 assists, eight steals, four rejections and 19 turnovers.
EHS senior Isaiah Fish led the hosts with 14 points on seven field goals. Next for the Eagles, Garrett Barringer tallied six points, while Mason Dishong finished with four points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Colton Reynolds contributed three points to the Eagle cause, Sharp Facemyer added two points, while Blaise Facemyer chipped in with one.
Sharp Facemyer and Ryan Dill tied for a team-high with two assists apiece. Dill, Barringer and Sharp Facemyer led the EHS defense with two steals apiece, while Reynolds and Fish both earned a rejection.
Holden Dailey paced the victors with 11 points, coming on four field goals and a trio of freebies. Nick Fauss scored seven points in the win, while Russell Young and Grant McCutcheon both tallied six.
Luke Teters, Wesley Jenkins and Peyten Stephens scored five points apiece for Waterford, with Stephens earning game-highs of 11 rebounds and seven assists. Young led the Wildcat defense with two steals and three rejections, while Stephens added two steals and a block.
Eastern will look to avenge this setback on when these teams meet in Washington County on Feb. 8.
The Eagles suit up for the final time in 2018 on Friday at Miller.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.