The Buchtel boys basketball team utilized its speed and quickness Tuesday night to nullify host Ellet’s height advantage.
Buchtel came out fast and forced Ellet into mistakes. The Griffins kept the defensive pressure up for 32 minutes to earn an 80-66 City Series victory.
“We knew they were bigger than us and he [Ellet coach Mark Fisher] would try to position his big kids in certain spots,” Buchtel coach Stephen White said. “We had to take those spots away and force them into an up-and-down game. We knew he wanted to control the tempo and slow the game down and throw the ball inside. We did not allow that to happen.”
Junior Deric Rucker led Buchtel (2-0, 2-0) with 17 points, eight steals, seven rebounds and three assists. Buchtel, which had five players in double figures, committed 21 turnovers and forced Ellet (5-1, 0-1) into 33 turnovers.
“It is pretty exciting to run like we do out there,” said Buchtel 6-foot senior Ci’Andre Johnson-Lollar, who had 15 points and three steals. “We don’t have any big guys over 6-5, 6-6. We just have to play D, rotate and use our speed to our advantage.
“We applied ball pressure. At Buchtel, we have a reputation of having fierce defense. We rotate well and force turnovers.”
Senior Tre’ Smith scored 10 of his 16 points in the first half to help Buchtel lead 21-13 after one quarter and 39-28 at halftime.
“We are playing well,” said Smith, who also had five assists. “We have to stay together as a team. There is a lot of leadership here. Everybody has to come together as one.”
Senior guard Dionte Williams led Ellet with 21 points. Senior Jake Williams contributed 11 points and five rebounds, and junior Jae’Vante Ray added 11 points.
“We had 11 turnovers in the first quarter,” Ellet coach Mark Fisher said. “It is hard to dig a hole and come back against them because then you have to turn them over. We did, but you can’t dig a hole against a team like that. They finish too well. They take the ball right to the rack.
“We are just not there yet. We are going to be, I think, but we are not there yet. We will work hard and learn from this one. I think we did a lot of things well. We got off to a slow start and we couldn’t use our height to our advantage.”
Juniors La’Shawn Johnson (15 points) and Jared Puryear (11 points) were also key players for Buchtel.
“We worked as a team and did not play selfish,” Johnson said. “Everybody pushed hard and played 110 percent. There was no slacking off.”
Ellet cut its deficit to seven points five times in the second half, but got no closer. Senior point guard Jake Fisher scored eight points.
“We just had to play like a team and never give up,” Rucker said. “When you are up you can’t be satisfied until the game is over.”
Puryear praised his teammates sharing the ball and playing smart.
“We are fortunate to have a lot of players that can score,” Puryear said.
Buchtel is also fortunate to have players who can trap defensively.
“Our press is strong, but we still have to tighten some things up, especially half-court defense,” White said. “We need to play more of our bench because Tre’ Smith played the whole game, which I don’t like. He has been here three years, so I think he can handle it when it’s needed. He was calling the plays and being a leader, which I asked of him. He doesn’t say much. Ci’Andre Johnson-Lollar was being a leader too. I am pleased with our two games.”
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.