After losing its first game of the season to Aberdeen, 66-53, on Dec. 11, the Elma High School boys basketball team responded with a dominant win over Forks on Friday. The Eagles beat the Spartans, 86-40, in Elma’s first Evergreen 1A League contest.
“I thought the kids played with a sense of urgency and confidence,” coach Marvin Prince said. “Our defensive pressure rattled (Forks) and it fueled things in transition. The kids settled down and played well. It was just an overall great team effort.”
All 10 of the Elma players who got into the game scored at least two points, with senior Ray Stark leading the way with 14 points. Senior Ryan Collin added 13 points and senior Austin Neary scored 11 points. Senior Tyson Nauman had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
While Prince said he was pleased with the effort the entire team put forth in both games, he said the guard play of Stark and senior Rashad Lorton has been the key to keeping them competitive against Aberdeen and their dismantling of the Spartans. The Eagles had fewer than 15 turnovers in each of their two games last week.
“We handled the basketball well both games,” Prince said. “They are distributing the basketball without turning it over. In the past we would have averaged 25 turnovers. When you only turn it over 12 times, that is 13 more possessions. If you score at 30 percent of that for the game, that is potentially 10 more points. Our guard play these first two games has kept the turnovers down, which is going to give us more opportunities down the road if we keep that up.”
In addition to the point guard play, the scoring of Collin has helped fuel the Eagles early. Collin shot 100 percent from the floor on his way to 13 points against Forks and led Elma with 26 points against Aberdeen.
“He has grown up so much the last four years since he was a freshman,” Prince said. “There is a different confidence about the kid today. He is a solid leader both vocally and in what he does daily. His maturation as a young man has been something pretty cool to see.”
As excited as Prince was about his team’s start to the league schedule last week, he said the Eagles need to stay level-headed and keep working toward their daily goals to continue to be successful.
“We couldn’t ask for anything better in our start to league play, but it is early and anything can happen,” Prince said. “We have to remember that we take everything day by day. I’m excited about the prospects we have in front of us.”