PEMBERVILLE - Eastwood coach Steve Stoller probably couldn t have asked for more from the Eagles than what they delivered against Woodmore last night in a key early-season Suburban Lakes League meeting.
Eastwood came away with a 69-57 victory over the Wildcats mainly because the Eagles put out the kind of all-around effort that will put most teams in position for a victory.
“I thought they outhustled us completely and they deserved to win the game,” Woodmore coach Don Christie said.
The Eagles, who improved to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the SLL, came through with their best effort of the season. Tom Szymanski, a 6-1 junior, topped four Eagles who scored in double figures by pumping in 24 points while knocking down six of seven shots.
Szymanski, who hadn t seen any action because of a shoulder injury, was perfect from behind the 3-point arc, sinking all five of his 3-point attempts.
Szymanski scored 11 of the Eagles 17 during the second period to help Eastwood take a 33-24 advantage into halftime.
Eastwood's Brandon Snyder is defended inside by Woodmore's Tyler Rosenberger, left, and Derek Schlea.
“Every shot I put up I felt like it was going to go in,” Szymanski said. “I didn t think I could miss.”
Szymanski, who injured his shoulder a few weeks ago diving for a loose ball, said he s only “80 percent” healthy.
“Our kids did a nice job of penetrating and finding him,” Stoller said of Syzmanski. “We were able to penetrate and spread them out.
“[He] has that shooter s mentality. When he s out there he s going to shoot the ball.”
Once Szymanski knocked down his first shot, a 3-pointer, the Eagles became committed to finding him for wide-open looks along the wing. It was as if Woodmore s defense never saw Szymanski s long-range shooting exhibition coming.
“We knew he was a good shooter, but we just didn t execute on defense,” Christie said.
Eastwood didn t need to rely solely on its top outside shooter for points. Brandon Snyder accounted for 12 points to go along with five rebounds while Jake Speck made his mark around the basket to score 11 points and Kevin Leady added 10.
“We allowed them to penetrate and allowed them to get to the basket and then we started to play at their pace,” Christie said.
Stoller, who hadn t been pleased with the Eagles inconsistent play this season, urged his team to play with more “purpose, passion, and confidence” against Woodmore than they had in previous outings.
The Eagles responded accordingly and it led to Eastwood taking hold of the lead early in the first quarter and never allowing Woodmore to come any closer than four points the rest of the night.
Speck, a 6-1 senior and team captain, may have been as instrumental as anyone in knocking off Woodmore (3-3, 2-1). He provided steady contributions on both ends of the court, finishing with a team-best seven rebounds and three steals.
“I thought we took a step in the right direction tonight and Jake Speck was a key to that,” Stoller said. “Defensively, I though we did a nice job of defending.”
The Eagles didn t completely shut down Woodmore. Tyler Rosenberger, a 6-4 junior, scored a game-high 26 points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds. Brian Perkins added 11 points.
Rosenberger responded with nine points in the third quarter, including seven straight points that led to Woodmore chopping an 11-point deficit down to four when he made one of two foul shots with 4:38 left in the period.
However, Eastwood basically traded baskets with Woodmore the rest of the period to take a 46-39 lead into the final quarter.
Eastwood finished off Woodmore in the fourth quarter by making 17 of 24 foul attempts in the period. The Eagles were 20 of 29 from the foul line while Woodmore only made 11 of 21 attempts.