It was legendary college football coach Bear Bryant who declared that while an explosive offense will sell tickets, it’s a solid defense that leads teams to championships. While any talk of a championship would be premature, defense is first and foremost on the Elmont boys’ basketball blueprint, and the Spartans are following it to a T.
After the team’s 86-46 rout of New Hyde Park last Friday, Elmont improved to 8-0 in league play. Senior Qai Kellman scored a career-high 27 points and junior point guard Jevon Santos dished out 10 assists, while matching his career-high with 17 points. Kellman leads Elmont (10-3 overall) with an 11.7 points per game average.
The Spartans, who are seeking their ninth league title in 10 years, have been stingy when it comes to points allowed. The team has not yielded more than 55 points in a league contest, and Conference A-II opponents are averaging just 44 points per game.
There will always be nights when finding the bottom of the net will be difficult, but Elmont’s effort on the defensive end has been a constant. “We’re just real tough on defense,” Elmont head coach George Holub said. “And, we’ve gotten a lot better at it since the beginning of the season. It’s been the key for us. The boys bought into it. We’re definitely moving in the right direction.”
After losing nearly 80 percent of the team’s scoring to graduation, Holub knew that it would take more than one go-to player to try to fill the void in 2018-19. He was spot on. The Spartans have six players averaging at least seven points per game, and have had five different players lead the team in scoring.
“This group has no problem sharing the ball,” Holub said. “Jevon and Isiah [Barnes] are doing a great job at the point, and guys like Qai and Gus [Louis] have really stepped up their games of late.”
Santos, a three-year varsity player, has been as good as advertised on both ends of the court. While finding the open man to set up a scoring opportunity is his speciality, Santos is more than capable of hitting the big shot. This was exemplified was he buried a three just before the buzzer to give the Spartans a dramatic 55-54 victory at Manhasset on Jan 5.
Sharpshooter Jordan Lawson, who leads the team with 23 three-point baskets, scored 12 points, all from downtown, in the win at Manhasset. Louis is another player who has risen to the occasion in big games. He scored a career-high 20 points when Jericho visited on January 11. Louis is averaging 9.8 points per game.
Holub knows his team can get stronger. “We need to do a better job at taking care of the ball, and getting people the right shots,” Houb said. “We like to get out and run, so we have to be consistent with our passing.”
The Spartans travel to Carey to take on the Seahawks this Friday at 4:30 p.m.