Tiger defense stymies Bucs

TENNERTON – Elkins used ball-hawking defense to produce 13 steals Thursday night en route to a convincing 60-29 victory over Big 10 Conference rival Buckhannon-Upshur.

The Bucs had 21 turnovers and were held to just 12 field goals.

Early on, the game was tight. B-U held an 8-7 lead 6 minutes into the game, as neither team was efficient in their half-court sets.

With a minute remaining in the quarter, Elkins first-year head coach John Lawson employed a full-court press, and B-U encountered immediate difficulty solving the pressure. The result was a 13-2 Tiger run that produced a 20-10 lead 4 minutes into the second quarter. Logan Phillips drained a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer to highlight the run, and Colby Gainer recorded three of his game-high six steals during the surge. It was a coaching move that reaped quick dividends for Lawson.

“We were very lethargic during the first quarter, and that is why we made the move to the pressure,” Lawson said. “That has happened a few times with us, but it seems the defense gets the offense going.

“We have some players that are quick, and they enjoy coming out and playing tough defense.”

Elkins pushed the advantage to 30-18 by halftime, and extended the lead to 46-24 by the end of the third quarter.

As they continued to create B-U turnovers, the Tiger defense was effective at denying the ball away from Buc post player Dalton Westfall, who was held to just seven points and seven rebounds.

“We are trying to be strong in three phases,” Lawson said. “The half-court offense, the open court and with pressure. We did a good job with the pressure tonight, and had some good moments in the open court. But in the half court we are simply not running an offense and scoring.”

Phillips led the Elkins attack with 19 points, followed by Gainer’s 14. Braden Hammond scored eight off the bench, while L.J. Lawrence tallied seven points to go along with a game-high nine rebounds. Tyler Shreve added a game- high four assists.

Aaron Anderson led B-U with eight points. Dalton Crislip and Cody Garrett each had three assists.

Elkins (11-5) will return home at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to face Robert C. Byrd, while the Bucs (2-16) will entertain Bridgeport on the same evening.