By Sam Wilson
The first game of the season showed some competitiveness, but also room for improvement for the Springville-Griffith Institute varsity boys basketball team.
The Griffins hung in the game until the closing minutes on Tuesday at Salamanca, but ultimately fell in a non-league opener, 60-50. Until a late Warriors run in the final three minutes, neither team led by more than two possessions (six points).
Austin Boies led Springville with 18 points, while Alex Elkins had 12 points and Eric Copeland had 11.
“I thought we played well. I thought overall we did good things,” SGI coach Greg Miller said. “We had some costly turnovers (24 total, to Salamanca’s 19). We knocked down shots. We’ve got to get to the bucket more and get to the line more. But overall defensively, we had steals, we’ve just got to capitalize on that.”
Salamanca coach Adam Bennett commended the Griffins and Miller for the competitiveness they showed as they turn the page from star Mason Goodridge, who graduated last year on his way to play at Alfred University.
“Boies is a very good player,” Bennett said. “He’s tough to guard and he does a good job of setting up the other guys. They had Mason Goodridge last year and I think for my money, he’s one of the best players in Western New York. When you play alongside a guy like that, he makes you better. And they proved it without him. They had a lot of guys step up, Greg’s got them playing really hard right off the start and so I’m just happy we were able to weather the storm.
“They’re not an easy team to play,” Bennett added of Springville. “They’ve got a lot of size, again Boies is a hard player to guard, they rebound the ball well and that’s what we want. We’re not going to get where we want to go by playing teams that we think we can just roll the ball out and win. We want a challenge every night and we tried to schedule that way.”
Jarod White led Salamanca with 17 points and eight rebounds and Isaac Brown chipped in 16 points, seven rebounds and seven steals.
For Miller, the first game showed the Griffins can play solid defense, but still have to work things out offensively.
“They’re picking things up,” he said. “I like to try to throw different looks at them and different things. That’s a big thing. But we played well and we got on the glass, which was awesome, getting rebounds. We like to run, get our tempo going with that, but overall, we really worked hard and played well.”
What would he like to see moving forward?
“Taking care of the ball, finishing on offense, running through our sets, balancing it a little bit more and going from there,” he noted.
The Griffins won’t be able to replace Goodridge, who averaged 26 points last season, with one player on a younger team. But he’s looking to hisfive starting juniors to each pick up some of the scoring SGI needs.
“We started five juniors today and it’s a lot of that core group,” Miller said. “It’s not one individual. I had three guys in double-digits and I just need a couple other guys to balance that scoring, but it’s not one guy running it, one guy really standing out.”