By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
TEXICO — It’s not hard to compare the current Melrose Buffaloes to the Elida boys team of a couple of years ago.
Extraordinarily young, the Tigers took a few lumps along the way. Now, though, it was Elida dealing out the punishment in a 60-24 rout of Melrose on Wednesday in an EPAC tournament boys quarterfinal matchup.
The majority of Elida’s core players are now in the junior class, including guard Ever Varela, who led a balanced attack with 17 points to help the Tigers (12-2) advance to a 6 p.m. semifinal game on Friday against San Jon (5-4).
“We were a little excited; we just turned the ball over (early),” Varela said. “We played well today. We penetrated and passed the ball well. We gave our posts a chance to do what they do.”
Melrose (1-11), which scored its first win of the season on Tuesday over House, hung close for a quarter, trailing 10-9. But they were outscored 41-10 over the middle two stanzas.
“I’m happy; all 12 boys got a lot of playing time,” Elida coach Darrell Chenault said. “We said before the game we wanted to have a massive defensive effort. We wanted to hold them below 40 points.”
Another junior, Tom Sullivan, added 10 points for the Tigers as all but two of their players scored. Sophomore Call Barnard led the Buffs with seven points.
“Elida deserves to win,” Melrose coach Casey Pack said. “Their young kids have taken their lumps (in the past). Probably from that adversity, they’re going to have some success.”
As for his own team, he admits it’s a learning process.
“At times, we’re doing some good things,” Pack said. “At other times, we take a step back.
“Our schedule has probably hurt us a little bit. We’ve played some good teams that got on us early.”
Elida has already played San Jon, having beaten the Coyotes earlier this season on the road.
“We just have to play Friday like we did today,” Varela said. “But we’ll have to cut down on our turnovers a little.”