Defense helps Eldorado stave off Chaparral

Updated December 10, 2018 - 10:55 pm

Eldorado boys basketball coach Reginald Ingram knows plenty about pressure defense — and turning turnovers into points — from his playing days at Rancho under then-coach Tony Hopkins.

So it didn’t come as a shock to see his Sundevils play the same style Monday and take advantage of six Chaparral miscues in the first half en route to a 54-48 road victory.

“We struggled for four or five games, so we came to Chaparral wanting to do what we do best, and what our system is and just try to perfect it in this game,” Ingram said. “We work on our transition game every single day, and we try to score something quick. We try to constantly keep moving and moving.”

Eldorado (2-5) scored 10 points off turnovers — eight in the first half — and outrebounded the Cowboys 34-27 to steal a crucial win during a busy three-game week. Eldorado held the Cowboys (1-3) to just 30 percent (17 of 55) shooting while forcing 11 turnovers.

LeLenn Ross led all scorers with 17 points, and Jonathan Thomas had 13 points and eight rebounds for Eldorado. Grayling Atkins added 12 points and four rebounds, and Jalen Malone had eight points and nine rebounds.

Elijah Briggs led Chaparral with 15 points, and Meshach Hawkins registered a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

“We play off of our defense, so, more turnovers, more breaks for us — that’s how we play,” Thomas said. “We needed this one because it will give us confidence for the rest of the teams (we play). I knew they were going to put up a scrappy fight, I’ve played here before. It’s always tough here, the gym is loud, they’ve got good fans.”

After falling behind 9-2 in the first quarter, the Sundevils used a 10-0 run to move ahead 12-9 and never relinquished the lead. Chaparral pulled within two midway through the second period, but Eldorado closed the half on a 6-2 run to take a 29-23 lead into halftime.

The Cowboys missed their first five attempts to open the second half, allowing Eldorado to open up a 10-point lead on a pair of buckets by Malone.

Leading 38-34 heading into the fourth quarter, Thomas’ put-back and a 3-pointer by Atkins moments later pushed the lead to nine. Eldorado closed the game by going 7-for-10 from the free-throw line, while leading by as many 11 late in the fourth quarter.

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