Tigers' rapid improvement results in first win
The rapid improvement by the New Richmond boys basketball team resulted in the Tigers' first win of the 2003-04 season Thursday night.
Facing another winless team, the Ellsworth Panthers, the Tigers controlled play in the first half, leading 20-12 at the break. Ellsworth made a charge at the end of the third quarter to tie the score at 29-29.
The Tigers regained the lead with three minutes left in the game, on a seven-point play. From there the Tigers held on for a 42-40 victory. The win is the first for the Tigers under new varsity coach John Elkin.
The seven-point play in the fourth quarter was the final turning point of the game. With Ellsworth leading 34-33, New Richmond senior guard Scott Meyer drained a three-pointer from the corner with 3:02 on the clock. An Ellsworth defender bowled over New Richmond's Erik Anderson, who was setting a screen for Meyer. Ellsworth coach Pedro Renta thought that the foul occurred before Meyer got his shot away, and was called for a technical foul for his arguing.
Anderson hit his two free throws to make the lead 38-34. Meyer then hit the two free throws from the technical to complete the seven-point swing.
Drawing the foul on that play is an example of the role Anderson has taken on the Tigers. He's shown the willingness to set screens and play tough defense, increasing his value because of his team-first play.
"Erik's been solid, he really brings some energy," Elkin said.
The inexperience of the Tigers then showed glaringly. In their next two possessions the Tigers showed no patience. Instead of trying to run time off the clock and preserve the lead, the Tigers turned the ball over twice without getting a shot away.
"We need to understand when we have a lead we have to be patient," Elkin said. "We need to make the other team play defense when we've got them down."
Ellsworth hit a three-pointer with 1:47 left in the game to cut the lead to three points. The Tigers missed five free throws in the final two minutes, but Meyer stood out like a senior, hitting a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left in the game to build the lead back to five points. Ellsworth hit a three-pointer in the final five seconds of the game, but the Tigers didn't have to inbound the ball, and the clock ran out on Ellsworth.
In addition to hitting several big shots, Meyer hauled down seven rebounds in the game.
"I thought Scott had his best game," Elkin said. "He's getting more confident in his shot."
The name of the game for the Tigers in Thursday's win was defense. Ellsworth has several physical, athletic players, led by 6-6 center Jared Hines.
"Lee Stovall did a marvelous job against Hines," Elkin said. "Our defensive discipline helped us a lot."
While the Tigers were the smaller team, it didn't show up in the rebounding. And because the Tigers were able to rebound well, it fed into a very successful fast break.
"We're not great yet in the halfcourt offense, so I wanted the guys to push it in transition," Elkin said.
The main player getting out on the break was junior Garret Fletch. He scored eight points, all on fast break hoops.
Fletch had a strong all-around game, leading the Tigers with eight rebounds and four assists.
In the first half the Tigers played for the best offensive matchups. Several times this resulted in Dan Bethke getting favorable matchups, scoring three hoops in the first half before Ellsworth changed to a zone during the second half.
The Tigers now enjoy a long holiday break, before facing Hudson on Jan. 6.
New Richmond 42, Ellsworth 40
Hove 1 0-0 2, Hewitt 2 0-0 5, Melstrom 4 0-0 12, Foley 3 0-0 6, Blodgett 2 2-5 6, Hines 3 3-3 9. Totals 15 5-8 40.
NEW RICHMOND (42)
Engel 4 0-0 8, Fletch 4 0-2 8, Anderson 0 2-2 2, Bethke 3 1-3 7, Brennan 0 0-2 0, Meyer 4 6-6 15, Peterson 0 0-0 0, Stovall 1 0-0 2, Steen 0 0-2 0. Totals 16 9-17 42.
Ellsworth 8 4 17 11 40
New Richmond 6 14 9 13 42
Three-point goals -- Hewitt, Melstrom 4, Meyer. Fouled out -- Foley. Total fouls -- Ellsworth 18, New Richmond 18.