Bulldogs Unable to Dig Out of Early Hole
Gardner scores 12 points but Batavia drops a key UEC River basketball decision to Elgin.
Elgin basketball coach Mike Sitter called it “his team’s best game of the season.”
Batavia senior forward/center Elliott Vaughn had very different thoughts about his team’s performance during Friday night’s 58-41 Upstate Eight Conference River Division loss to the Maroons in Batavia.
“It was pretty bad,” said Vaughn, who finished with seven points and five rebounds, well below his season averages in both categories. “Some of the worst ball we’ve started out with (all season).
“We didn’t start getting the ball inside real well and we turned the ball over a lot,” added Vaughn.
That they did.
The Bulldogs (10-9, 5-4) committed turnovers on their first three possessions, and the Maroons (14-5, 6-2) capitalized on all of them while building a 7-0 lead. A pair of layups from Cory Brown and Jordan Dean’s 3-pointer helped put the Bulldogs on their heels early in the contest.
Brown, Dean and 5-5 sophomore point guard Arie Williams provided all of the offense as the Maroons grabbed a 20-6 first-quarter advantage.
“It put us in a big hole,” said Batavia coach Jim Roberts. “We didn’t do a very good job of handling the basketball a lot of the time. There were times where we panicked a bit.”
Shooting woes also crippled the Bulldogs early, as they connected on just three of their first 12 field-goal attempts.
“They did a very good job of pushing us away from what we wanted to do,” Roberts said.
While the Bulldogs couldn’t find the range from the perimeter, Elgin benefited from spot-on accuracy with four 3-pointers in five attempts during the opening quarter.
“I think that was the key,” Roberts said of the Maroons’ outside shooting. “They hit five threes in the first half.”
Elgin led 28-18 at halftime, and extended the margin to 12 at 42-30 heading into the fourth quarter.
“When you get yourself in a situation where you get down 10 and you have to chase, it makes it difficult,” admitted Roberts. “When we were down 12 to start the fourth quarter, they continued to spread the floor and hit enough shots so that we couldn’t put the heat on them.”
While Dean led the Maroons with 17 points, it was Brown who was a constant thorn in the Bulldogs’ side, as the 6-4 junior finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals.
“He’s a young man who can get to the basket and can also hit the mid-range shot,” Roberts said of Brown.
Junior Cole Gardner scored 12 points to lead Batavia, which slipped two games in back of first-place Elgin and St. Charles North in the loss column with three conference games remaining.