Buchtel coach Stephen White is optimistic about his boys basketball team.
And he has good reason to be.
The Griffins played fast and disruptive Friday night en route to a season-opening 73-48 win over the host Garfield Golden Rams.
Senior Tyler Jones led Buchtel with 19 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block.
The Griffins held a 30-9 lead over the Rams (0-3, 0-1) after one quarter.
“I think we can be pretty good; we just need to clean up some things on offense,” White said. “Our defense is pretty solid, but we just have to slow down a little bit on our press. It was the first game, and it looked like our guys were real anxious. We were over-running stuff and fouling, but we took charges and played hard and did some good things.”
Buchtel posted a 9-12 record last season, but didn’t look anything like a below-.500 team Friday by forcing 30 turnovers and committing just eight.
“We pressured them, got in their face and got steals,” said Jones, who is 6-foot-3. “That was basically the game plan and we executed it.”
Buchtel senior Demonte Hicks scored 10 points, and senior Elijah Bell added eight points, six rebounds and three assists.
“I felt we got OK ball pressure,” Hicks said. “We could have done better and gotten more steals. We pressured them really well and got into them defensively.”
Buchtel built its sizable lead courtesy of its starters — Jones, Hicks, Bell, junior Tre Smith and sophomore Deric Rucker. The Griffins upped their advantage to 42-19 at halftime and 55-31 after three quarters.
“I am happy with the way Tyler Jones, Demonte Hicks and Elijah Bell played,” White said. “[Senior] Cody Hicks did a nice job. [Senior] Jalen Ruffin came along and played well, and so did [junior] Jeff White. I also liked our two little sophomores we put in at the end, LaShawn Johnson and Timon Ollison. I liked the way the whole team played. We can probably play 13 people.”
Ruffin finished with eight points. Hicks and Johnson both scored six points.
Seniors Jharshon Graise, Sable Cooper and Erron Cosey also provided quality minutes as Griffins reserves with junior Ci’Andre Johnson-Lollar and sophomore Jared Puryear.
“We wanted to attack them, offensively and defensively,” White said.
Garfield coach Harold Ickes was on the opposite end as he tries to reload his team that lost all five starters from last season to graduation.
“I have one kid playing with a lot of varsity experience, so hopefully this will help us get used to playing against a press,” Ickes said. “We need to get [6-5 junior Brelyn] Brewton back. When he gets back, that will help us. He broke his thumb [on his left hand] in our first scrimmage and will be out another week or two.”
Senior Dierre Powers paced the Rams with eight points, and senior Anthony Wallace added seven points and six rebounds.
“We have a very inexperienced team,” Ickes said. “We are working in a sophomore point guard in Noland Hamilton. We lost a lot of guys. Darius Hoisten is a freshman walk-on at the University of Akron and Jorden Boykin is playing at Wayne College.
The Rams’ five starters Friday were Powers, Wallace, Hamilton, senior Karrington Sommerville and DaiQuann Clay.
Buchtel will host Ellet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in its renovated gymnasium within its new school.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.