LAFAYETTE — For openers, the boys basketball game between Erie and Centaurus was pretty tame.
Tigers senior Dylan Brink has been around enough to know that’s not always the case. “Openers are crazy sometimes,” he said after Erie cruised to a 72-50 win against the Warriors.
So, in order to pin down a controlled approach, the Tigers just wanted to focus purely on defense, and the group did exactly that in the near wire-to-wire victory. Implementing a three-quarter court press and frequently settling into a 3-2 zone, Erie made it a frustrating night for the smaller Warriors, executing a plan designed with everyone so fresh to the court against live competition.
“You’re rusty and you have to get into game speed (in openers), so we really wanted to start our effort defensively and I think that helped us offensively,” said Brink. “We’ve been trying to manage games a lot in practice, and we just tried to do that tonight, as well.”
With the overall size the Tigers have, even on the perimeter, they should be able to get hands on a lot of opponent passes this season, and often that was the case when Centaurus tried to feed the ball inside. The Warriors had 17 turnovers for the game, several of them coming before they even crossed the center line, too.
“We need to work on that in practice tomorrow, because we should have been able to beat that easily,” said Centaurus’ Kyle Taudien, who finished with 18 points as one of the few Warriors who were able to penetrate effectively. “We got down early and could not come back.”
The game was tight for the first 5 minutes, and even in the second quarter Centaurus found itself down just 23-18 with 3:37 to play after Steven Lopez hit one of his two 3-pointers. But Erie closed out the half with a dominating run, gaining as much as a 38-25 lead.
Kyle Leahy, who finished with 16 points before fouling out, converted a traditional three-point play right after Lopez’s shot to bring the score back up to 26-18, then a steal and eventual basket by Brink on the next possession made it 28-18. Joel Smith hit a tough baseline jumper to make it 30-18, and Brett Egan had a few strong moves in the paint late to get EHS the big advantage.
The Tigers were on cruise control in the second half, but still excelled as they shot 13 for 20 over the final 16 minutes. The balanced attack — Brink had 21, Leahy 16 and Egan had 13 — pleased coach Tim Leahy as he saw his squad shoot 54 percent for the game.
“Dylan played well in the flow of the game, which is something we’ve talked about, but all the guys shared the ball,” said coach Leahy, whose team also only had 11 turnovers. “We got a lot of good contributions from a lot of people. Brett is the perfect sixth man, really, because he has that mentality of coming in and being aggressive. He’s really good off the bench.”
“(Egan) was a nice addition off the bench … and we know he can provide that offense,” Brink said. “He can do good things with the ball, and it was nice to have him be hot tonight. We’re excited, and this is just the beginning for us.”
Taudien was that type of consistent for CHS, finishing 8 of 11 from the floor, including a pair of 3-pointers. The balance was not there, though, and the Warriors were cold from the outside, going 4 for 17 from 3-point range. Lopez finished with 16 points as the only other CHS player in double figures. Centaurus was also outrebounded 34-20.
“Our defense brought us down, and we need to be able to carry our intensity throughout the game,” Taudien said. “We weren’t able to slide over on help in time, just beat off the dribble and our help was not there.”
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ERIE 72, CENTAURUS 50
At Centaurus HS
Joel Smith 3 1-4 7, Kyle Leahy 5 5-10 16, Coltin Brink 1 0-0 2, Dylan Brink 7 5-7 21, Campbell 3 1-2 7, Brett Egan 3 7-7 13, Reece Melton 2 0-0 4, Jesse Tallman 1 0-1 2. Totals 25 19-31 72.
Trey Puckett 2 0-0 4, Kyle Taudien 8 1-2 18, Jose Aguirre 0 0-2 0, Trent Koch 1 0-0 2, Steven Lopez 6 2-2 16, Derek French 2 2-3 6, Mike DeVries 1 1-1 3. Totals 20 6-10 50.
Score by quarters:
Erie 16 22 20 14 — 72
Centaurus 11 18 10 11 — 50
3-point field goals — Visitor (3): D. Brink 2, Leahy; Home (4): Taudien 2, Lopez 2. Fouled out — K. Leahy, Omar Fuentes.