WINNEMUCCA – For the first half, the Elko boys basketball team appeared it would turn Tuesday’s game against Lowry into a running clock.
The Buckaroos responded with a solid second-half effort, but the Indians stayed the course and improved to 8-0 in the Division 3A North with a 49-30 victory.
Elko tore off to a 15-0 lead in the first quarter.
Senior Jose Zataray scored the first bucket of the game on an offensive rebound with a hook shot in the middle, adding a free throw.
Junior Alex Klekas drove Main St. for a finish down the gut, and senior Ryan Wickersham cashed a three from the left wing for an 8-0 advantage.
Lowry called a timeout with 3:40 remaining in the opening frame.
From the break, Wickersham made a strong move and beat his defender off the bounce down the right side of the lane for an And-1.
A free throw by Klekas opened an 11-0 lead, and senior Angelo Antoniou turned a great outlet pass from Klekas into a sweet finish with his left hand on a reverse.
Klekas missed a layup on the break but quickly got off the floor and tipped in his own miss for a 15-0 run.
Lowry struggled with Elko’s ball pressure and quick hands, missing the few clean looks it had at the rim.
The Buckaroos could not wait any longer to score their first points of the quarter and the game, junior Kyle Sappington drilling a three from the right wing as the buzzer rang.
Elko led 15-3 going into the second period.
The Indians opened the third quarter with a three by Sean Klekas on his second attempt of the possession from distance, Elko grabbing an offensive rebound and passing the ball around the floor.
Zataray added a pair of free throws, but Lowry’s first points of the frame came on a great up-fake finish by junior Dorsey Naveran.
Wickersham’s second three of the contest gave Elko a 23-5 lead, but junior Scottie Smith scored on an assist from junior Brendan Domire – most of the Buckaroos’ looks at the rim coming from interior bounce passes.
Wickersham made a nice post-entry pass to senior Jeron Yopps, who was fouled and made a free throw.
Senior Lorenzo Mattson dropped a midrange jumper for the Bucks, but Elko went into the single bonus with 3:50 remaining in the half – Sean Klekas hitting the front end of a 1-and-1.
The Indians never committed a single foul until the 3:32 mark of the second period.
Yopps buried a three from the right corner on a skip pass from Zataray, and the Indians opened a 28-9 lead at halftime.
Lowry came out with a different intensity in the second half on both ends of the floor.
The Bucks immediately fed Naveran in the post, notching consecutive buckets in the first two possessions with a baseline take and an offensive rebound.
Elko’s initial offense in the third quarter came from distance with quick ball movement down the floor, Alex Klekas drilling a triple from a pass by Zataray and Wickersham ripping his third three of the game from the left corner.
Yopps made a big block for the Indians, but junior Shai Welsh scored the Bucks’ first point in four minutes from the line with 3:18 on the clock.
Elko junior Ronin Rowley buried two free throws on the other end, followed by a clean trip to the stripe by Lowry junior Logan Peters.
The Indians closed the scoring in the third quarter with a steal and strong take to the rim by Antoniou.
After three quarters, the Indians topped the Bucks 41-16.
Lowry took the fight to Elko in the fourth period, playing pressure defense in the face of the Indians – forcing several turnovers.
Rowley sank two free throws for Elko, but senior Darian Solis completed a three-point play from the stripe after finishing against contact in the middle of the lane.
Junior Oscar Juanes chucked up a line-drive jumper after he pumped the Elko defender into the air, dropping a long two with his foot on the line.
Mattson buried a pair of free throws, and Peters scored in transition down the left side after another Elko turnover – capping a 9-0 Lowry run.
Elko stemmed the streak with a great play by Wickersham, who penetrated the middle of the lane and drew the defense over – sending a perfect-pocket pass to senior Kevin Espinoza for an easy score on the left block.
Domire came away with a steal for the Bucks, driving straight at the chest of his defender and finishing in the middle on the one-man fast break.
Naveran completed a three-point play and trimmed the lead to 15 at 45-30 with 1:55 on the clock for Lowry’s final score.
Elko went into the bonus with 55 seconds remaining, Sean Klekas going 4-for-4 down the stretch from the charity stripe.
The Indians extended to a 49-30 victory, finishing the first half of the league season a perfect 8-0.
Lowry dropped to 2-5 in the Division 3A North and will close their first half of the league slate against Spring Creek (3-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Winnemucca.
Wickersham and Alex Klekas led all scorers with 11 points apiece, Wickersham sticking three 3s and Alex Klekas splashing two shots from distance.
Naveran paced the Bucks with nine points, seven coming in the second half.
Sean Klekas scored eight points for the Indians, followed by five from Zataray.
Antoniou, Rowley and Yopps closed with four points apiece for Elko.
Peters and Mattson each added four points for Lowry.
ELKO – 15 – 13 – 13 – 8 – 49 Total
LOWRY – 3 – 6 – 7 – 14 – 30 Total
“We played six of eight league games on the road, so 8-0 feels pretty good. We played very well in the first half,” said Elko coach Chris Klekas. “I think Lowry was a little embarrassed from the first half, and they came out aggressive and played a good second half. They got after us, and we didn’t handle it very well. The worst four-letter word a coach can call you is soft, and we were soft in the second half.”
The Indians will travel to Las Vegas for their next two ballgames.
Ranked No. 1 in the state in the Division 3A, Elko will take on No. 4 Mojave at 6 p.m. Friday at Mojave High School.
The Indians will close the non-conference road trip with a 1 p.m. Saturday tip against the No. 10 ranked team in the Division 4A, facing the Bulldogs of Centennial in the Battle Born Classic at Durango High School.