By Rob Potter
ELDRED Even to the most casual observer of Thursday night’s Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V basketball game at Eldred Central School, it was clear that the visiting Tuxedo Tornadoes and Eldred Yellowjackets had only played one previous game this season.
Players from both teams committed many traveling violations and other turnovers in the first quarter of the game held in the ECS gym affectionately called the “Bee Hive” by the Yellowjacket fans. As a result, Eldred held a slim 6-5 lead at the end of those eight minutes.
As the game progressed, however, Eldred (1-1, 1-0 Div. V) was able to get into a better offensive rhythm on its way to a 45-33 win.
“Early on, both teams had some nerves and played with some jitters,” Eldred Coach J.J. Gass said. “But then we started to make some shots in the second quarter and took the lead.”
In addition Eldred stifled Tuxedo defensively, relying heavily on their twin towers, 6-9 P.J. Collins and 6-5 Nick Dilles.
“We forced them to take a lot of outside shots,” Gass said. “We have the two big defenders and it’s tough to go inside and score on those guys.”
Collins finished with a game-high 18 points and 13 rebounds while Dilles snatched 12 rebounds. Gass noted that of the 25 combined rebounds by Collins and Dilles, 11 were on the offensive end, which gave the Yellowjackets valuable second-chance opportunities to score.
Which they did better in the second half almost doubling their first-half output with 16 points in the third quarter. Matt Bisland’s three-pointer midway through the quarter gave Eldred its first double-digit lead, which they built to a 40-19 lead midway through the fourth.
“This was a good win for us tonight,” Gass said, coming off a season-opening loss to Class A Port Jervis. “Both teams played hard and we were able to pull out the win.”
Christian Ruiz led the Tornadoes (1-2, 0-1 Div. V).
Tuxedo Coach Marco Margotta noted that his team had trouble recovering from its mistakes.
“I felt like whenever we turned the ball over or missed a shot, we just couldn’t let it go mentally,” he commented. “Then it would affect us on the next possession.”
Margotta praised sophomore Blake Tisdale, who had the challenge of defending Collins.
“I think Blake did a good job of guarding Collins tonight,” Margotta said. “Blake is a 6-7 junior, but he hasn’t played a lot of basketball before. P.J. Collins is a very good player. He knows how to use his body, his arms and his feet to get in a good position to score down under the basket. But Blake is a good defender and I think he did a heck of a job against Collins.”