Raindrops were falling outside, but it was 3-pointers that were falling inside the gym.
The Elma High School basketball team used 12-for-24 shooting from behind the arch to stay undefeated in Evergreen 1A League play with a win over Rochester on Friday, 67-28.
“Early on, we settled a little bit and then we started to work the ball around and things started to happen,” coach Marvin Prince said. “We just took care of what we had to do on the home court. We try and preach that the three balls will go down a lot easier if you get it inside and kick it back out, and when we did that Austin (Neary) had three or four assists coming off that short corner and kicking it back out.”
Neary wasn’t just good for assists as the post hit a 3-pointer of his own in the fourth quarter. In all, Elma (7-3, 5-0) had five players hit 3-pointers with six of the long-range shots coming from senior Tyson Nauman, who led the Eagles with 25 points.
“Before the game, my dad said to get 26 and if I didn’t miss a free throw I would have,” Nauman said.
Nauman almost outscored Rochester by himself. Scoring four points in the first quarter, the senior matched the four by the Warriors before adding two 3-pointers in each of the final three quarters. While his point total was almost the same as that of Rochester, Nauman was quick to give his teammates credit for the victory.
“For us to all be seniors and actually doing good for once is nice,” Nauman said. He noted the team needed to “keep it going and take one game at a time.”
It wasn’t just the Eagle offense that led to the win. Elma held Rochester to single-digit point totals in three quarters. In the first six Warrior possessions, Elma forced four turnovers, an offensive foul and a missed shot.
“We’ve been preaching all year long about defense, how it can make things happen for us,” Prince said. “These kids have got good speed, good chemistry. They understand rotations and that feeds into everything. We played great team basketball.”
Along with Nauman’s 25 points, senior Chance Bremer added 12 points and senior Ray Stark scored 11 points. Ryan Collin and Devon Gilman each scored six points.
The Eagles are undefeated through the first five games of the league schedule and will begin the second half of the schedule on Friday when they host Forks. Prince said the team has changed its mentality during practice and games. That’s why the Eagles have been doing so well.
“It is just a great tribute the kids,” Prince said. “I couldn’t be more proud as a coach to have kids that believe in us as coaches and to believe in each other. It has been a pleasure to come to practice every day. They go to work and they are doing their job. They come out in the games and we seem like we are just at that good zone. They just want to compete. …
“We are going to try and capture the moment and try to run with it.”