BY JEFF FALK
PHOTOS BY LORI MESSERSMITH
Lebanon – The Elco boys’ basketball team was disgusted and frustrated by its opening night performance. But instead of sulking about it, the Raiders went back to work and back to the drawing board.
It proved to be the correct course of action.
Following an earlier film study session and some hands-on instruction in head coach Brad Conners’ high school class room, the Raiders responded with a 62-24 beat down of West Perry, in Saturday’s consolation round of the Lebanon Tip-off Tournament. The Raiders ran their offense more smoothly, played shut-down defense and methodically pulled away from the Mustangs.
After falling to the host Cedars on Friday night, last evening’s triumph evened Elco’s early season mark at 1-1. West Perry fell to 0-2.
“I was deflated last night (Friday),” said Conners. “I thought we were going to play better. So we came in ready to work. We were determined to come in for a split. The kids were great, and when we took the floor they were ready to go. You’re probably a little unsure, until that first shot goes down.
“Obviously Lebanon’s on-ball pressure, that’s hard to re-create in a practice,” Conners continued. “We knew coming in we wouldn’t see that type of pressure and that we could run some offense.”
The Raiders tallied the first ten points of the contest and led 17-2 after eight minutes of action, as sophomore Caleb Buchmoyer stroked a pair of three-point field goals in the opening stanza. After six different Elco players contributed points in the second quarter, the Raiders took a 35-7 margin to the halftime break.
Elco committed just two first-half turnovers.
“It was nice. A win is always nice,” said Conners. “We knew were going to see that 3-2 zone. We ran though it and practiced against it this morning, and Caleb Buchmoyer knocked down a couple of shots early. At halftime we talked about playing the third and fourth quarter clean, and playing solid.
“We’ll take the win,” continued Conners. “We still had to put the basketball in the hoop. We still had to execute.”
Soph Colton Lawrence paced the Raiders with 16 points, and for his efforts earned a spot on the all-tournament team. Dylan Stoops supported Lawrence with ten points.
Elco converted 27 field goals, three of which came from three-point land.
“I thought we did pretty well defensively,” said Conners. “We’re trying to play with a little more ball pressure. We have some players who can do that. It’s nice to be able to do something to a team that’s been done to us.”
The Raiders tallied the opening seven points of the second half to extend their lead to 37 points. West Perry didn’t reach double digits until 4:19 of the third period was remaining.
“I was concerned at halftime that we thought it was over,” said Conners of his players. “Honestly, when we made the first two buckets of the third quarter, I started feeling a little more comfortable.”