Despite having a young roster, Elizabethtown boys basketball head coach Rocky Parise feels his team has more experience and maturity than they might get credit for.
“I feel like most of the guys are over that hump,” Parise said after the Bears’ weekend performance at their season-opening tip-off tournament at Manheim Township High School.
Elizabethtown’s growth was on full display in the tournament, in which they scored 148 points over two games (most in the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s Section 2) and nearly bested one of the Lancaster-Lebanon best squads, the Manheim Township Blue Streaks.
Over the course of Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9, the Bears played two basketball contests. The first was a season-opening matchup with the Manheim Township Blue Streaks, which Elizabethtown lost by the score of 76-66 after falling short in the game’s fourth quarter; the second was a matchup in the tournament’s consolation game with the Red Land Patriots, which the Bears won by the score of 82-54 on the strength of a dominant offensive performance.
“I’ll tell you what, our shooting was pretty good this tournament,” Parise said of his team’s offensive performance. “That’s something we really focused on…we really started in hard in April working on those shots. Now they’re falling for us.”
Evidence for Elizabethtown’s shooting prowess can be found in their win over the Patriots. They posted double-digit points in each quarter, and tallied 51 points in the second half alone. They made 62% of their attempted two-point shots (25 of 40) and added four three-point buckets. They also made the most of their chances at the foul line, making 20 of 31 free throws.
Key to the scoring were the performances of sophomore point guard Ryan Parise and junior guard Amos Kollie. Parise scored a team-high 24 points against Red Land, making eight of his thirteen shots and making seven of nine free throws. He also helped extend offensive possessions for the Bears by grabbing four offensive rebounds.
Kollie contributed 22 points, making seven of his thirteen shots and making six of seven free throws. He also helped limit Red Land’s scorings chances by grabbing three defensive rebounds and logging three steals as part of a strong defensive effort for Elizabethtown.
Regarding that effort, Parise credited his team’s strategy to make one of Red Land’s best players, senior Angel DeJesus, a non-factor a key to the win.
“We really limited DeJesus,” the coach said. “(Junior) Eddie Myers did a phenomenal job on him. We held him to twelve points, and he had a four-point play and he made three foul shots. So if you take those seven out of there, that’s not a whole lot of action. So we really focused on making them put the ball to the floor and driving them in to Larry.”
Parise credits his team’s early success, especially in the win over Red Land, to their ability to play a complete 32-minute game instead of trying to string together strong single-quarter efforts.
“I don’t feel like we have to try to pull that out of them,” the coach said. “It’s not so much like ‘Let’s win this quarter,’ but we’re looking at the overall general game.”
Still, he points to moments like the Bears’ second-half struggles in the game against Manheim Township as evidence that his team still has room to learn, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“We had a good first half before we broke down defensively there,” Parise said.
Indeed, Elizabethtown’s loss to the Blue Streaks was almost a night and day comparison of halves,
In that game’s first half, the Bears outscored the Streaks 31-28, and held them to just nine points in the first quarter. But the teams’ roles reversed in the second half, as the Streaks turned the tables on the Bears and scored 48 points the rest of the way, topping 20 points in both the third and fourth quarters.
Parise pointed to the struggle his team had defending Tyler Crespo, one of Manheim Township’s junior guards, as the biggest reason for the slide. Crespo torched the Bears for 20 points, including three three-point shots five points on eight free throw attempts.
Regardless of any ups and downs, Parise said he feels the season-opening tip-off tournament provides his squad a good chance to measure their offseason development against quality competition.
“This is a good tournament for us. I mean, Manheim Township’s one of the best teams we’ll play all year, and it was the first game. Red Land’s an up-and-coming team, and they played really hard, they’re well-coached, so that was another good win for us.”