“We didn’t value the possession of the basketball.”
That is how Elsberry Indians Head Coach Ryan Parker explained a 50 turnover night against a team in Hazelwood East that according to him, his team should have and could have beaten.
“We probably are 20 points better than them if we just limit our turnovers to half of what we did last [Monday] night,” said Parker.
The opening game of the Peoples Bank and Trust Tournament didn’t start out all bad for the Indians as they outscored the Spartans 16-12 in the first period. Riding a good interior defense by not allowing the Spartans to drive to the basket and 11 points from Guard Rahiem Porter (5) and Forward Dylan Howard (6), plus cold shooting from the outside for Hazelwood East, it was a recipe for success, despite some early miscues.
“I knew going in that they were going to pressure us in the full court and in the half court,” said Parker. “We worked on different situations to try and prepare us for the pressure. We played five on nine and five on 10 to just try and learn how to handle pressure.”
For the Indians that pressure rattled their cages.
“We have a lot of young kids playing for us that probably have never seen pressure like that. I’m not sure they were scared but maybe hurried or just impatient,” said Parker.
The fact that Hazelwood East got hot from the outside in the second quarter didn’t help either. Spartan Guard Brandon Brice unloaded with 10 points in the quarter to help outscore Elsberry 25-12 and giving them a 37-28 lead at the half.
The Indians did get a nice boost offensively before the half from Sophomore Wayne Holland who scored six of his seven points.
“I thought we played well the entire game except for the turnovers,” said Parker. “When we didn’t turn the ball over we were fine, we seemed to score and they seemed to struggle playing against us in the half court on both ends.”
The second half was much of the same. Turnovers continued and the Spartans outscored Elsberry in each of the final two quarters.
The Indians were led on offense by Kenny Lesley (19), Rahiem Porter (16), Holland (7) and Howard (7).
“I still think we need to be more balanced. Through two games we haven’t got much scoring out of our two other guard positions and that is going to be a must for us to succeed the rest of the year.”
Even with the loss to a Class 5A team, Parker knows these games and this tournament will only help improve his squad.
“I told our guys in the locker room after the game that the reason we get in this tournament every year is to get better and you only get better playing really good teams,” said Parker. “We wont see that kind of ball pressure the rest of the year but when we see some we will learn how to handle it from this game. We will learn from this and grow.”
Next up for the Indians is another tough matchup against Francis Howell at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
“It will be another challenge for us. We know going into this tournament every game is going to be tough. We will have to play well to beat them on their home court,” said Parker.