Chaminade Julienne was forced into a midseason adjustment last Friday when junior point guard Anthony Solomon was lost for the season with a knee injury. The Eagles entered Monday’s Flyin’ To The Hoop appearance on a three-game losing streak.
But the Eagles (7-8) created some good news for themselves with what first-year head coach Charles Szabo called the team’s best performance of the season. The Eagles attacked the inside in the first half, built a 20-point lead and rolled to a 61-38 victory over Cincinnati Gamble Montessori (5-6).
“Right now we’re adjusting to playing without him,” Szabo said of Solomon. “But we still have a core there and today we played the way we’ve wanted to play all year.”
Leading that core were forwards Daniel Nauseef with 13 points and nine rebounds, Brandon Gibson with 12 points and Larry Turner Jr. with 10 points. Guard Sean Menker added nine points. Benjamin Johnson is the new starter in Solomon’s place. Solomon was leading CJ’s balanced offense with a scoring average of 10.1.
“The game plan for us is balance and where the game dictate’s us,” Szabo said. “We’ve got four starters who can all score and we can go to.”
The Eagles shot 55.2% from the field in the first half and 53.1% for the game, including five for 14 on 3-point shots.
AZ Compass 57, Centerville 41: Centerville got the experience many teams are looking for at Flyin’ on Sunday night. The Elks faced a top national prep team with Division I recruits, size, strength and superior athleticism. The Elks also faced a team that played with great effort. That doesn’t always happen.
“You hope they don’t lock in and really try to play,” Elks coach Brook Cupps said. But Compass did and used runs to close the first half and start the second to take control.
“That was a great game for us to have to compete at that level for that long,” Cupps said. “I thought we were pretty good for about 28 minutes. About the last two minutes of the first half and the first two minutes of the second half we weren’t ready to compete for those minutes and that was the difference.”
Compass’ length, ability to cover passing lanes and cut off penetration made it challenging for the Elks to start their offense.
“The first pass wasn’t easy and the second one wasn’t easy and the third one wasn’t easy, but the first one proved to be really hard,” Cupps said. “We’ve to to clean that up. They obviously exposed stuff that a lot of teams can’t expose with their length and athleticism.”
Freshman point guard Gabe Cupps led the Elks with 14 points. At 6-foot-1 he was going against bigger and stronger guards, but he attacked the defense and committed only four turnovers on a night when the turnover total could have been much higher than the 12 the Elks committed.
“That’s what we expect out of him,” Brook Cupps said. “That’s what his teammates expect out of him because of who he’s played and the competition he’s played against.”
Overall Cupps was pleased with his team’s effort despite the adversity and shooting only 31.7 percent.
“Rich Rolf was an example — he couldn’t make a shot,” Cupps said. “But he was competing and he was going to the boards and he was getting loose balls and he was giving you everything he has.
The Elks were without 6-9 senior center Mo Njie. He turned his right ankle in the first half and it slowed him down. The ankle swelled at halftime, and when he tried to play the second half he had an obvious limp and left the game after a minute.
“It wasn’t worth it,” Cupps said. “We need him in a month more than we need him right now.”
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