Brookfield Central boys basketball win in GMC opener
Fast start keys victory behind LaChance's 21 points
Both coaches — Mark Adams and Andy Cerroni — had their concerns in Friday's Greater Metro Conference boys basketball opener.
Brookfield Central hadn't played since Nov. 27 and Sussex Hamilton would be playing with an inexperienced team around star Brady Ellingson.
But the Lancers used a fast start to defeat the Chargers, 70-60, at Central in a battle of last year's co-champions in the Greater Metro Conference.
A balanced team
A large crowd came out to watch a battle between Riley LaChance and Ellingson and they weren't disappointed. But the experienced and balanced Lancers made the difference in the end.
As for the coaches' concerns?
"We've had two good weeks of practice," Adams said of the long delay between games. "Yesterday, you could tell we needed a game."
Cerroni liked what he saw of his young team playing in its first big conference game.
"We're a little different than we were last year," he said. "Last year we knew who our top eight was. We went with them. This year we play 11 guys. I think they are starting to figure out when they get their opportunity they should make the most of it."
Ellingson led all scorers with 26 points, including 7-for-7 from the free throw line. LaChance had 21 points, hitting 6-of-7 from the free throw line.
But big Elijah Goodman scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Brad Newman scored 14 points. They were both 6-of-8 from the free throw line. Central finished with 11 free throws in the final period, as the Chargers tried to catch up.
"Elijah Goodman is just a beast," Cerroni said. "He is tough to guard. We went small early. We tried to shoot around the floor and stretch them out a bit. They are going to score points.
"You aren't going to shut those kids out. They're going to find ways to score. To their credit they hit free throws down the stretch."
Early lead for Central
Goodman scored six first-quarter points, as Central jumped off to a 12-0 lead when Cerroni called time out. The Lancers led 17-4 after one period, but from then on the Chargers battled back and made a game of it, actually cutting the lead to 31-28 when Goodman hit a layup right before half.
"We had some opportunities, had some shots, but some of our kids have never been in a game like this," Cerroni said. "I'm not going to lie; I was worried about the start. I was so proud of our kids. They battled back, they just started to get it. They relaxed and not forced things. When you hit shots, that makes a difference."
Ellingson had 14 points at half, while Goodman (10) and Newman (nine) led the Lancers.
Central had a 20-14 third period advantage, as LaChance scored nine points for a 53-42 lead after three quarters.
LaChance and Newman combined for 11 points in the final period as the Chargers won the quarter, 18-17.
Central went on a 10-0 run early in the third period to take a 43-32 lead, as Caleb Mortag (five) and LaChance (four) did most of the damage.
Ellingson had six points and Jacob Rink had six points, finishing the game with 10 as he had an excellent game off the bench.
But the Lancers could not shake the Chargers, as they cut the lead to three points again at 45-42 with 2:13 left in the corner. But Goodman sank 3-of-4 free throws and LaChance nailed a 3-pointer from beyond the top of the key to end with a 6-0 run and a 53-42 lead after three periods.
Free throws seal game
The Chargers cut it to seven three times, but Central held them off from the free throw line.
"It's a characteristic of this team; let's think about fast starts," Adams said. "I guess I should have told them once you do that, you have to keep working just as hard. I thought we tried to get a bigger lead, faster and an easier way.
"Our shot selection left a lot to be desired. When we did that, the momentum changed and there was an example of how long it takes to get the momentum back."
Adams played a man-to-man, because he would not let Ellingson beat Central from the outside. Terry Wallen, John Dusing and Max Wojcik spent the majority of the time taking turns guarding the Chargers star.
"I'm just not going to let Brady get anything easy," Adams said. "Whatever he had, he worked his tail off for it. You try and make someone else beat you. I don't think anyone else did.
"Credit them. They played very, very hard. I always say, they play as hard as anyone we play all year defensively and they did tonight."
Saturday, at Homestead
Brookfield Central 61, Milwaukee Hamilton 57 — The Lancers defeated the Wildcats (2-3) and Kevon Looney in a big non-conference game Saturday in the NY2LA Tournament at Homestead. Hamilton led, 27-18, at half, but the Lancers outscored them in the second half (34-25) and overtime (9-5) to get the win. Riley LaChance (26 points) led Central and Looney led all scorers with 31 points. Central improved to 4-0 on the year.
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