Elkton head coach Rob Parker has wanted his team to start fast. He wanted this talented, junior-led side to strike from the get-go. And on Friday night, with a 30-point first quarter against Yoncalla, they did just that on their way to a 63-32 victory at home to start league play.
“We’ve been talking all week about how we come out sometime early in a game and we’re kind of soft. We’re kind of like a fighter, feeling out the other team and then when we think we’re better, then we go after them,” said Parker. “I said, ‘Just do it. Start hard, just go.’ And so they did it, I was impressed.”
After Yoncalla took a brief 4-3 lead, the Elks swiftly answered with a 21-0 run that started with their full-court press. The pressure created easy fast break opportunities which led to 12 first quarter points from Aspyn Luzier, including a pair of threes, and 11 opening quarter points from Kieryn Carnes. Luzier and Carnes finished with 17 and 20 points respectively.
“If we do really good on our press and we get easy buckets then it gives us confidence,” said Carnes. “And so when we do get into our offense, we’re already ready and we’re already settled into the game and we’re not just going crazy.”
The Elks continued to pour it on in the second quarter and went to the half with a 46-17 lead.
“We were hoping to run and we did. We work all week on looking down the court because we have a tendency to just look for Kieryn. You know, even though someone is wide open underneath the basket,” said Parker. The Elks got contributions from across the board as Margaret Byle added nine points, Sadie Olson seven and Alexis Halstead six.
Yoncalla’s Kaleigh Soto finished with 13 points on the night.
“We kind of turned it around in the second half and didn’t look as bad as we did in the first,” said Yoncalla head coach Nick Edera. “I just couldn’t figure out, we worked on the press all week, we broke it fine and then we got in here and we couldn’t break it. And then all of a sudden we passed through it a couple times and it was like, ‘Oh, hey, that’s how you do it.’”
The Eagles followed up Friday’s loss with a 31-23 victory over Umpqua Valley Christian. The team hosted Days Creek at home yesterday (after The Sentinel’s press deadline) and will travel to fifth-ranked North Douglas on Friday.
For Elkton, the team played Umpqua Valley Christian on Tuesday before back-to-back games of defending league champion Days Creek on Friday and fifth ranked North Douglas on Saturday where they look to continue their winning ways.
“It feels really good to start out the season with a win. And I don’t know, it feels good to have a 1-0,” said Carnes. “It feels good to have a good start.”