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EDSS basketball teams off to a stronger start

The EDSS boys’ basketball teams are already off to a better start than last year.

The juniors have one win and four losses in regular season play so far. Their win was versus Kitchener Collegiate Institute, who hadn’t lost a game this season until they faced EDSS. The seniors have no wins and five losses in regular season play, but two wins at a recent tourney.

Last year’s teams didn’t post a single win in the regular season.

“We’ve actually won two games on the weekend at a tournament in Walkerton and we only won one game all year last year, so we’re off to a good start,” said senior team coach Adam Taylor.

Aside from returnees from last year’s team, they have three Grade 11s, and three new Grade 12s who didn’t play last year. He notes the latter three are actually some of their best players.

“We have a lot more athletic team this year, which is nice. They’re working really hard,” Taylor said.

Rather than a full-season goal, they have set goals for each game. He says they look for patterns from the team they’re playing and set a goal based on that. Last week versus Eastwood Collegiate Institute their goal was to hold them to 15 points less than they normally score, which they did.

“So we try to set in game goals, like we’re going to hold the team to ‘x’ amount of points or we’re going to force ‘x’ amount of turnovers, and then hopefully that gets them motivated for the whole 32 minutes and we’re hoping that it facilitates into wins. But we just don’t want to set that goal because losing is kind of a tradition here. We’re trying to change that. We’re hoping to win at least three [league games] this year, but we haven’t told the team yet,” Taylor said.

Right now they’re working on their 2-3 zone defense, forcing turnovers, and making good rebounds. He says their offense will come, and it is as they’re making more shots each game.

“Our zone has improved. We’re forcing a lot more turnovers. I think [last Tuesday] we forced 13 or 14 and held probably the second or third best team to 15 points less than they have averaged so far. We’ve seen them improve shooting wise, which we knew was going to come. The first game we scored mid-20s, the second game was terrible and then [last Tuesday] we scored almost 40. So that’s gone up quite a bit,” Taylor said.

The main thing they’re focusing on now is the way they communicate defensively. He says they’ve been doing a better job of talking more on the court, instead of relying on the coaches for guidance.

The junior team has been playing similarly, posting their first win versus Kitchener Collegiate Institute on Dec. 10.

Their first game of the season was against Grand River, where they lost 73-22. Junior team coach Brandon Hempel says they were still working on their positioning and deciding which player will fit each role the best.

“That game was a bit of a learning experience for us, but going into our next game we played against Southwood and that game was a really close game. Our guys played really well, but it ended up going in favour of Southwood with a score of 57-50. That was a close one and definitely we saw a really big improvement from our first game, so that was something we were really positive about,” Hempel said.

At home they faced Eastwood, which saw Elmira lose 62-33. He says they played alright, but ECI is a challenging team. Their game versus KCI went much better last week.

“The guys were playing fantastic offense, really good defense. There were a lot of smart passes. They were putting screens in place. They were driving to the net. So they were really playing well as a team and playing well individually. That worked out in our favour and we came out with a 46-37 win over KCI,” Hempel said.

The team’s primarily made up of Grade 9s with three returning Grade 10 players. He says the coaches are eager to develop them into players who can return to the team next year. He notes ninth grader Evan Rees was their top scorer versus KCI.

They’re working on fundamental basketball skills right now, like running a better zone defense, and playing man on man.

“We’ve had a really positive outlook from the group of newcomers that we’ve got in the Grade 9 year and then of course it’s nice to have some veteran guys around that came back from last year. They bring experience to the team that the Grade 9s don’t necessarily have. It’s a bit of a team in development but definitely over the course of the season we’ve seen them improving to this point. It was great to see them really pull it all together and pick up the win,” Hempel said.

Both teams play Waterloo-Oxford at home today (Dec. 17) at 3:15 p.m. for their final game before the new year.

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