Eagles enter season as battle-tested bunch


If nothing else, the Big Walnut girls basketball team will be battle-tested with six players that played on the soccer team’s state final four team.

“I think that’s a benefit,” BW second-year coach Jason Crawford said. “I’m always of the mindset that winning breeds winning. These girls have been in big games for a couple of years now – whether it’s soccer or basketball. They’ve faced adverse situations and they don’t shrink away from (them).”

“There was just so much pressure and I feel like we’ve adapted to that,” senior Emily Neff said. “I feel like that’ll definitely translate to the season.”

And the Golden Eagles basketball squad had to adapt fast. The girls soccer team finished its season Nov. 6 and the first basketball scrimmage was a week later.

“It’s a fast transition,” Neff said. “I love basketball and I love soccer, so it’s not hard for me to go from sport to sport. It’s a mindset that you have to change quickly … but it’s been easy for me.”

The Eagles are coming off a pretty strong campaign in their own right in Crawford’s first season.

They finished 17-7 and 6-4 in a very strong OCC-Capital on their way to a Division I district semifinal before being eliminated by Reynoldsburg.

“We were down eight with about four minutes to go in the third quarter and then Erin Boehm rolled her ankle really bad and couldn’t go anymore,” Crawford said. “That was a really big turning point in that game.”

BW is Division II this year and, while Crawford won’t admit that the road is easier, it’s certainly not as daunting.

“Obviously, our goal was to get (to the district final) last year and that’ll be our goal this year no matter what division we’re playing in,” Crawford said.

Senior Erin Boehm is the team’s top returner, averaging 10.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.0 steals per game while running the point last year.

One key loss is junior post Abby Facemyer, who will miss the season with a torn ACL.

Neff, the team’s only other senior, can relate to what Facemyer is going through. She suffered the same injury at the end of her sophomore season.

“It’s an awful injury and I really feel for her and I know she’ll get through it – she’s strong,” Neff said. “I’ve played basketball with her for so many years – I just wish her the best recovery.”

Crawford expects a committee of Neff and juniors Brook Stooksbury and Payton Carter to help fill the void in the post.

Neff pointed to Stooksbury as someone who held the team together in the offseason – particularly this fall when so many were playing soccer.

“She was there in the gym when we weren’t and she was the leader of the team,” Neff said. “We were in (soccer) season for a long time and (Stooksbury) took on the position of captain the whole off-season and I respect her for that.”

Juniors Avery Schone and Alexis Schone return as guards with fellow junior Alyssa Tarney helping out as a guard and a forward.

Sophomores Abby Brown and Avery Maxeiner are a pair of newcomers on the varsity level and will provide depth at the guard positions.

Big Walnut senior Emily Neff (center) tries to split the defense in the Golden Eagles’ scrimmage at Olentangy Berlin earlier this month.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2018/11/web1_IMG_0319.jpegBig Walnut senior Emily Neff (center) tries to split the defense in the Golden Eagles’ scrimmage at Olentangy Berlin earlier this month. Michael Rich | Gazette

By Michael Rich

For the Gazette

Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected].

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