Though most basketball fans tend to follow the player with the ball, one of the biggest factors during the Ellison at Shoemaker crosstown district rivalry matchup took place inside the paint.
The big guys threw their bodies in the paint, fought for every opportunity and made an even bigger difference for the Grey Wolves in their 59-47 win over Ellison on Friday night.
“It’s a total team concept,” Shoemaker coach Emund Prichett said. “That’s what I’m trying to preach here, that’s what I’m trying to get them to understand. I don’t care who has 20 points, I don’t care who the paper interviews, all I worry about is if the Grey Wolves win.”
The play inside was fast and furious all night, with players on both teams throwing their bodies in for every rebound, blocked shot and loose ball.
But it was the play of Shoemaker posts Torenzo Saunders and Nykolas Dawson, along with the versatility of wing Shane Johnson, that allowed the Grey Wolves (13-6, 3-2 8-5A) to get the big district win.
“Coach told us that if we do those little things, we’ll come up with a victory,” sophomore guard Tyrone Williams said.
Saunders, Dawson and Johnson combined to score 31 points for Shoemaker whereas the Ellison (12-9, 3-2) frontcourt managed to score only 16, 12 of which came from Ronnie Edwards, who led the team in scoring.
The scoring output helped Shoemaker make up for the fact that Ellison held a 23-17 rebounding edge.
“It was a team victory and guys did what we asked them to do,” Prichett said after the game. “It was a great game, we were victorious and it was another chance to get better. Now there’s an opportunity for us to build on what just happened tonight.”
The Grey Wolves were able to outscore the Eagles in the paint 28-26 and shot 71 percent (15 for 21) from inside the 3-point line compared to Ellison’s 61 percent (16 for 29).
Shoemaker put the game out of reach by coming up with some baskets in the paint down the stretch.
Ellison’s Knigel Key cut Shoemaker’s lead to 43-40 with 5:25 remaining, but Shoemaker closed the door by countering with a 14-7 run in the next 4:29.
The Grey Wolves scored six straight point during that run on layups, drives to the baskets and loose balls in the paint.