Ken Lesley (right) moves inside against Troy Buchanan’s Tanner Ludwig.
For Elsberry Indians Head Coach Ryan Parker, the early season Peoples Bank and Trust Tournament in Troy is a perfect benchmark to find out where his team is and where he plans to take them.
“We schedule this tournament to learn about our team and what areas we need to work on,” said Parker. “You only get better by playing great competition and we got better last week.”
In this type of tournament when smaller class schools are playing 4A and 5A teams, the score doesn’t always tell how the game was played.
“We know going in that we are probably not going 3-0 and we are fine with that as long as we get better,” said Parker.
And getting better is something his young squad did very well.
In the first two games against Hazelwood East and Francis Howell, Elsberry struggled with pressure and size from the guard spot turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Elsberry’s guards average 5’10” compared to East and Howell’s guards at 6’3”, which makes it harder to throw over the top or see through traps.
In the final game against Troy the Indians only turned the ball over six times.
“We got better!” said Parker. “Whatever pressure we see from here on out will be nothing like those first two games.”
On offense it was consistent play from junior center Kenny Lesley that led the Indians, averaging 24.7 points per game and setting the top mark with 74 points total for the tournament. He finished with 36 points against the Trojans.
In the 68-54 loss to Hazelwood East Elsberry’s Rahiem Porter was the only other player to reach double figures with 16 points. The next game it was Dylan Howard with 11 points in the 67-45 loss to Francis Howell and Porter once again with 15 points in the 62-51 win over Troy on Friday night.
With only two players each night in double figures, Parker says that he needs a bit more scoring from the two other guard spots.
The 11 points against Francis Howell from Howard is something Parker would love to have all year long.
“We have to do a better job of utilizing Dylan’s strengths.” said Parker.
After coaching the Indians for the past several years, Parker has consistently preached team first and that it will take a team to win, not just relying on Lesley or any one player to be the go to guy.
“Kenny is a great player there is no denying that, but you have to have a TEAM to win,” said Parker.
For three quarters, the teams went toe-to-toe with Troy leading 14-11 after one period and Elsberry gaining a 27-26 lead at the half. The teams battled to a 17-15 (Elsberry edge) in the third period. The Indians assumed control midway through the final period to gain the win.
Sophomore Adam Mennemeyer led Troy with 20 points and Tanner Ludwig followed with 12 points.
The Trojans returned to action Saturday playing Pacific in the Norm Stewart Cancer Tournament in Columbia where they lost 58-42 to another Indians squad. For the Pacific game Adam Mennemeyer lead us in points with 12 followed by Hunter Martin with 10.
“The kids played hard, but we are still struggling on the offense and as we only shot 28 percent from the field,” said Coach Ryan Meyers. “JD (Powell) did not play in the game because of his ankle injury. We are hoping to get him back on Tuesday of this week for our game against Holt.”