NEW LENOX – The boys basketball teams from Plainfield East and Providence entered Tuesday’s nonconference game with many things in common.
Both sides graduated a lot of talent from successful squads and started out losing their first three contests before collecting a win and then dropping their conference openers.
However, that’s where the similarities ended. The Bengals jumped out to a 16-6 lead after one quarter and built up a 34-13 halftime lead before capturing a 59-38 win over the Celtics.
“We were a lot better on more possessions than we were in some other games,” East coach Branden Adkins said. “Our defense gave us some momentum, and we keep talking about letting our defense creating easy opportunities on offense. We’ve had games where we had two or three possessions in a row that are pretty solid but then had three or four that weren’t so good. We put together five, six or seven solid possessions together tonight.
“They were doubling and tripling Elyjah [Goss], but we shared the ball well and knocked down shots. We got transition baskets, and that made it difficult for them. Our record could definitely be different, but I like where we’re headed as a team. We’re still learning about each other, but now guys are starting to get comfortable and playing good, solid basketball.”
The Bengals (2-4) connected on 18 of 29 shots from the floor through the first three quarters and finished shooting 22 of 39 for the game. Meanwhile, the Celtics (1-5) only shot 5 of 20 during the opening half before warming up to finish 15 of 44 for the contest.
“The shots just aren’t falling for us,” Celtics coach Tim Trendel said. “We’re getting some good looks, but they’re just not going in, and a lot of that is our experience, and the speed of the game is catching up to us. We lost a lot of guys from last year, so the new guys have to figure out how fast varsity basketball is, and they’re a good team. In the second half, we did some of the things we need to do to compete with teams at that high of a level.”
Jalyn Adams led East with 23 points and six rebounds, while Vinny Tarello chipped in with 11 points. Lee Higgins scored eight points, Jordan and Collin Reed contributed six points apiece, and Elyjah Goss added five points and five rebounds.
“We lost some guys, but we’re trying to find the pieces and get back to where we were last year,” Adams said. “We were playing together tonight and getting some ball movement. I like that we’re a family. We’re always together and working hard in practice and getting after it and then taking that out here to the court.”
While things may not have started as well as the Bengals might have hoped, they’re feeling optimistic about where they’ll be by the end of the season.
“We played with intensity on the defensive end, and that’s where it starts, since our defense leads to our offense,” Tarello said. “I saw lanes open up, and my teammates did a good job of finishing; and when they catch the ball, I know that they’re going to finish, so it’s easy to throw it to them and get an assist. We’ve had some tough losses, but we’ve just stayed together as a family and as a group, and we just grind every day in order to get better.”
The Celtics were led by Anthony DiNardi, who had eight points and five rebounds, while Jake Schutter (seven rebounds) and Scott Slocum had seven points apiece. Michael Drew had six points and seven rebounds, and Martez Malone and Brian Castelli had four points each.