by Thomas Spencer
The Fighting Yellowjackets made some offensive improvements last Tuesday in a 39-51 loss to Loyola Sacred Heart.
“Our offense had their best output of the season by scoring 39 points,” said head coach Clayton Curley. This was despite some serious challenges presented by a tough Loyola press from the three-quarter to half court variety. This made it hard for the Yellowjackets to get the ball to their offensive side of the court. “We committed 24 turnovers which is too many for us to compete against teams in our conference or anywhere in the state. We must bring that number down if we want to compete with teams,” said Curley.
It took the Yellowjackets most of the game to overcome that press but they really started to get into a groove by the fourth quarter. The Yellowjackets only managed 3 points in the first quarter, from Kellan Beller. In the second quarter Lorenzo Grazzani, Hunter Gum, and Kellan Beller all picked up a couple of baskets to account for 10 points in the quarter. In the 3rd quarter, without Beller, the Yellowjackets managed to pick up 11 points in that quarter.
Then, in the fourth quarter in the final minutes of the game, Tad Tackes fired off three big threes that for a moment seemed to put the Yellowjackets within striking distance of the Rams. But, it wasn’t enough late in the game to climb out of the deficit.
Despite a tough loss, the Yellowjacket squad looks promising and there is definitely a reason to be optimistic both offensively and defensively.
“Our defense did a much better job rebounding and playing on-ball defense,” said Curley. “We need to continue to work on our foot speed and communication on the defensive side of the court.”
On Tuesday for the Yellowjackets it just took a little too long to get the varying parts of the game working in unison. In the fourth quarter, the Jackets outscored the Rams by 5, speaking both to the offensive and defensive play for the Stevi squad. This improved second-half performance was without a major presence on the floor in junior Kellan Beller.
“Kellan Beller made his 2022 debut playing the first two quarters and played well on both ends of the court,” said Curley. “He had some great defensive plays as well as a monster block at the end of the second quarter. He is a real game-changer and we expect to get great minutes from him as our season continues.”
With a scant eight guys on the roster for the Yellowjackets, each one will need to step up, even more, to be successful. “Tad Tackes had his highest-scoring night with 9 points. Lorenzo Grazzani, a foreign exchange student from Italy, also scored 9 points on 4-6 shooting from the floor,” said Curley.
The Yellowjackets will host the Corvallis Blue Devils Thursday night.