ELGIN – After allowing Elgin to nail five 3-pointers after the first quarter, Batavia’s boys basketball team got a little defensive during Friday’s Upstate Eight Conference River Division game against Elgin.
Contesting every shot and limiting Elgin to one shot most possessions, the Bulldogs shut the Maroons down for 7:33 in second quarter and went on a 14-0 run to take a 10-point lead en route to a 62-50 victory.
“That was a big goal defensively, to hold them to single-digit quarters,” said Mike Carlson, who had 14 points off the bench to boost the Bulldogs. “Our defense really led to our offense, shutting them down and getting easy shots.
“We attacked [Elgin star guard] Arie [Williams] on ball screens. We did a really good job of communicating. That was huge, making sure everyone knew where they were at.”
Carlson started the second quarter with two baskets to tie the score. The Bulldogs (10-12, 4-6 UEC River) took a 17-15 lead on a basket by Jake Pollack, and increased it to 20-15 on a 3-pointer by Zach Strittmatter.
Carlson followed with two free throws and Tucker Knox capped the run with a three-point play.
“I thought we rebounded well,” said Batavia coach Jim Nazos. “I thought, position-wise, we were in a lot of good spots. The second and third quarters, there were a lot of things that went well for us defensively that created a little bit of a gap heading into the fourth.”
Elgin (11-12, 2-8) finally stopped the run when Williams hit two free throws with 27 seconds left in the half. Batavia held a 27-17 advantage going into halftime.
“Our shot selection wasn’t very good,” said Elgin coach Mike Sitter. “We settled for the first shot instead of the best shot. When we didn’t hit it a few, it kind of steam rolled.
“We are a team of runs. When we are going good, everybody plays well. And when things went bad in that second quarter, it started snow-balling. We were on a bad roll. We just need to play more consistently.”
Elgin tried to claw back into the game, cutting the Bulldogs’ lead to 33-26 late in the third quarter.
However, Carlson was fouled on a shot in the lane, and Elgin’s Isaiah Butler was assessed a technical foul for arguing the call.
Carlson went 3 for 4 from the free-throw line to give the Bulldogs some breathing room, 36-26, which is how the quarter ended.
“We definitely had the momentum at that point,” Carlson said. “We just wanted to keep it rolling and bury them.”
Elgin was not able to get closer than 41-32 in the fourth quarter. Strittmatter led Batavia with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Rueffer added 11 points for the Bulldogs and Luke Horton chipped in with nine. Williams was the game’s high scorer with 27 points.
“Inconsistency on the offensive end is what worries me the most,” Sitter said. “We have guys who do the right thing onetime down the floor, and the next time they don’t do the right thing.
“It is too late in the season to be making mistakes, not knowing where you are supposed to be and what you are supposed tobe doing with the ball.”
Batavia took advantage of its height advantage to score many easy baskets in the lane. The Bulldogs also hit 25-of-29from the line, while Elgin managed just 8-of-14.
“[Our height advantage] was a big key for us going in,” Carlson said. “Horton had a great game inside.”
“We’re smaller than any team we’ve played the entire year,” Sitter said. “We’re used to that. Our post defense wasn’t very good today. A lot of reaching instead of moving our body and getting in the right spot.”