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January 4, 2013

H.S. Basketball: Stingy defense leads to points for Elks in blowout win

ELKHART — It took about a quarter-and-a-half, but the Elkhart boys’ basketball team slowly rounded into form defensively Friday against visiting Woden.

The result was three-straight quarters in which the Elks held Woden to under 10 points en route to a 67-41 blowout in a game that was close through the first three quarters.

“We haven’t run a whole lot of that zone this year, but it’s something that we had for this game,” EHS coach Ryan Blackmon said. “When we switched to that in the second quarter it really helped us out. It allows us to get out in transition.”

Elkhart didn’t take its first significant lead until late in the third quarter, when Cole Bridges hit a three-pointer to put Elkhart up 32-30. From there, the rout was on.

Bridges went on his own personal 5-0 run with a steal and a lay-up followed by a three-pointer to make it 40-32 with just under seven minutes to play in the game and the Elks never looked back.

But, the real story wasn’t the Elkhart offense, but rather its defense.

After holding the Eagles to only five points in the third quarter, the Elks put the clamps down to start the fourth. Woden didn’t score its first points of the quarter until there were less than five minutes to play and, by that point, Elkhart had a double-digit lead.

With the defensive pressure amped up on one end of the court, Elkhart found lots of fast-break opportunities on the other, as the Elks were able to turn Woden turnovers into fast break points.

The Elks also seem buoyed by the home return of Jeffrey Wilson, who had been out since before Thanksgiving with an injury. He returned over the weekend at a tournament, but really seemed to hit his stride Friday.

The junior scored a game-high 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds for Elkhart, who also got 13 points from Brian Johnson and 11 from both Bridges and Jacob Cheatham.

“Getting Jeffrey back, getting our point guard back and having the other guys really just work off of his flow, it worked out well for us,” Blackmon said.

With the win, Elkhart moves to 2-1 in District 19-2A play and remains a perfect 2-0 at home, something that Blackmon said is important with so many teams fighting for playoff spots.

“This was a big win,” Blackmon said. “I told the guys coming in that (district) was going to be a dogfight. I told them coming in that home games were going to be important.

“Staying undefeated at home, that’s a big win for us.”

The Elks travel to Groveton Tuesday, with games beginning at 4 p.m.

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