Finding focus on defense could propel Ellington Knights deep into tourneys

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Ellington - posted Thu., Feb. 6, 2014
Ellington senior Brian Gerber gets some serious air while making a shot vs. East Granby on Feb. 4. Photos by Steve Smith.
Ellington senior Brian Gerber gets some serious air while making a shot vs. East Granby on Feb. 4. Photos by Steve Smith.

The Ellington boys’ basketball team improved to 10-4, after a 65-59 win over East Granby on Feb. 4 that was closer than it should have been. According to coach Don Flint, that game was something of a microcosm of the team’s season.

The Knights jumped out to an early lead, but East Granby was able to cut that margin significantly by halftime. Ellington roared back in the third, but East Granby kept chipping away and was within two scores with two minutes to go. Ellington was able to hold on, but should have been able to put East Granby away.

“We’ve been preaching ’32 minutes’ all year,” Flint said, adding that his team plays well at times, but lets off the gas at others. “We had a really good effort in the first quarter, and we had a really good four minutes in the third quarter. When we play hard, good things happen. In the second, and in the end of the third and beginning of the fourth, we had a lack of intensity. That’s really been the issue for us this year.”

While the team is senior-heavy, with many skilled players, Flint said the obstacles the Knights have to overcome are mental and/or emotional, and particularly staying focused on defense when the team has a lead. One thing that has helped with that is employing more half- and full-court pressing.

“When we press, that usually commands us, emotionally, to be involved in the game,” Flint said, “which in turn helps us in every category.”

With good overall depth, and therefore more options, Flint said that the players who work harder at that defensive focus will see more playing time in the last few games, as well as the post-season.

“We have the opportunity to be a very good offensive team,” he said. “We have to find the guys who will commit for 32 minutes. There are those who are talking, and those who are walking. We’ve got to make a commitment to the kids who are walking. They may not be the most talented players, but defense wins championships, as does hard work.”

“If we can put it all together,” Flint added, “we can make run at the conference and state tournaments. There’s no doubt at all.”

Ellington plays at Granby Memorial on Feb. 11 and hosts Suffield on Feb. 14.

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