It’s been several years since Bill Eller coached a high school basketball game in the Chattanooga area, so it was no real surprise that the veteran leader admitted to being “just a little bit tense and nervous” before his team’s first game of the season Tuesday night.
Eller is now the head coach at Soddy Daisy and he had a smile on his face after the 63-49 victory over the Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers in a Hall of Fame contest on the Soddy Daisy floor.
It was really a game of two halves where the Trojans bolted to a 30-13 lead at the half. The Bucs never tossed in the white towel and had a 36-33 edge in the final two quarters, but that early start where Soddy Daisy scored the first nine points was more than the Bucs could overcome.
“We’re just trying to get better with each passing day, but we have such bad habits that we’re working hard to correct. We just don’t make good decisions quick enough, but we’re getting better,” said Eller as he relaxed in his office following the season opener for both teams.
“Our fundamentals are lacking, but the effort was good. We got a little tired in the second half and we have to learn how to push past that fatigue, but our goal tonight was to apply in a game situation what we’ve been working on in practice.
“We need to get the ball around the rim and take higher-percentage shots, but we got the win tonight and I’m happy about that,” he added.
Spencer Keylon opened the scoring for Soddy Daisy and he concluded the 9-0 run in the first two and a half minutes with a three-point play.
Preston Edmondson scored five straight points for the Bucs midway through the quarter, but the difference was 15-5 when the second quarter began.
Consecutive buckets from Hunter Burke, Doug Volker and Keylon to start the second period extended the lead to 22-5 while the difference was 30-13 at the break.
A short jumper from Josh Davis and another 3 from Keylon to start the second half allowed the Trojans to enjoy their biggest lead at 35-13 with 6:20 to play, but that’s when the Bucs started chipping away.
The Soddy Daisy lead was still 16 points when the fourth quarter began, but Riley Covington had three points in the first minute of the final period to make it 51-38 while a bucket from Trenton Gresham and two from Eli Evans got it to within 10 at 54-44 with 3:49 to play.
Covington’s 3 a minute later got the Bucs within nine at 56-47, but it didn’t get any closer as the Trojans were able to hold on for the win.
Boyd-Buchanan coach Daniel Gilbert walked away feeling good about the effort he got from a team without any seniors and only three juniors.
“We got off to a slow start and they got off to a fast one, but I liked our fight as we never quit playing,” said Gilbert after a post-game chat with his team.
“We were much more aggressive in the second half as I thought we played scared at the start. We had a nice comeback in the second half, but Soddy Daisy was still able to make some big shots along the way.
“We have a really young team and we can’t afford to worry about what the scoreboard says. We just have to play hard and the results will take care of themselves. I thought we did a good job of sticking together and we competed. That’s all I can ask,” he added.
Volker had 16 points to lead Soddy Daisy while Keylon followed with 15 and Burke 11.
Edmondson was tops for Boyd-Buchanan with 16 points while Evans and Covington were both in double figures with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
The taller Trojans also enjoyed an unofficial 36-20 edge in rebounds as Burke grabbed 11 while Davis had eight and Keylon seven. Gresham and Evans both had five boards for the Bucs.
Boyd-Buchanan will be at home on Friday for its next game with Red Bank while Soddy Daisy goes to Notre Dame on Thursday.
SODDY DAISY GIRLS 35, BOYD-BUCHANAN 24: The Lady Trojans used a 13-4 edge in the fourth quarter to pull away from a 22-20 lead for its first win of the season.
Alexis Trimiar had eight points to lead the Lady Trojans while Bailey Branam followed with seven. Emilee Dent, Summer Ghaffari and Lydia Hall add had six points for Soddy Daisy.
Laney Bone was tops for the Lady Bucs with a dozen points. Tate Gardenhire was next with four.
BOYD-BUCHANAN 3 10 7 4 -- 24
SODDY DAISY 7 9 6 13 -- 35
BOYD-BUCHANAN (24) – Stone, Bone 12, Baxter, A. Taylor 3, Tramel, Gardenhire 4, M. Taylor 2, Balthrop 3, Plumlee, Henderson, Dawson.
SODDY DAISY (35) – Dent 6, Davis, Kearney, Ghaffari 6, Trimiar 8, Branam 7, Prestwood 2, Hall 6.
3-POINT GOALS: Boyd-Buchanan 1 (A. Taylor); Soddy Daisy none.
BOYD-BUCHANAN 5 8 22 14 -- 49
SODDY DAISY 15 15 21 12 -- 63
BOYD-BUCHANAN (49) – Evans 14, Oliver, Edmondson 16, Gilley, Covington 10, Gresham 6, Craw 3, Beavers, Baubach, Fryar.
SODDY DAISY (63) – Perez 5, Branam 8, Massengale 2, Culton 2, Render 2, Keylon 15, Hart, Davis 2, Burke 11, Jackson, Volker 16.
3-POINT GOALS: Boyd- Buchanan 4 (Evans, Edmondson 2, Covington); Soddy Daisy 5 (Perez, Branam 2, Keylon 2).
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)