ELKO — The start wasn’t pretty, but the end result was a lopsided W.
In the Elko boys basketball team’s season opener, the Indians — riding a 35-point night by sophomore Michael Klekas — cruised to a 71-44 win over the Hug Hawks.
The first portion of the contest was a defensive struggle, both teams misfiring from the field and committing turnovers.
The ice was finally broken after two and a half minutes, Hug senior Omar Cordy driving the right side of the lane and finishing through for an And-1 plus the free throw.
The Hawks’ lead reached 5-0 with a take down the right wing by sophomore Joseph Freeman.
Elko’s first bucket of the season was dropped by Michael Klekas, scoring on a crosscourt lob from junior Sean Klekas.
Michael Klekas tied the contest with a triple from the left side, Sean Klekas assisting once again on the play.
The Indians broke down defensively and gave up an easy deuce on the left baseline to senior Tevin Grant.
A pull-up jumper by Michael Klekas knotted the score once again 7-7.
Elko’s luck took a turn toward negative town at the 2:03 mark.
Sean Klekas, who sprained his ankle during the Indians’ alumni game on Saturday, made a steal and was pushed down from behind, reinjuring his ankle on the play.
Hug grabbed a 9-7 advantage with a runner on the baseline by sophomore Agustin Aguirre, but Michael Klekas gridlocked the tally with a bunny on the left block from an inbound assist by senior EJ Alvarez.
Cordy scored for the Hawks for an 11-9 lead, but Michael Klekas maintained his hot start with a three from the right wing on an assist from sophomore Dawson Dumas.
After one, Elko led by a slim margin at 12-11 — Michael Klekas accounting for all of the Indians’ points.
Beginning the second period, Elko went to a trap defense and forced a turnover — Alvarez saving a ball from the boundary and flipping to Michael Klekas.
He looked ahead to sophomore Isaiah Dahl for a layup on the break.
Dumas stroked a three from the middle on a pass from Michael Klekas for a 17-11 lead.
Grant dropped a layup from an inbound pass for the Hawks, but Michael Klekas grabbed a loose ball on the other end and finished inside for a 19-13 tally.
Hug notched the next-two buckets, one by Cordy and another by Freeman on a backdoor cut.
Alvarez found an open layup and converted on a give-and-go with a feed from junior Jake Zeller.
Cordy scored with an up-fake and step-through for the Hawks, but Zeller made a nifty wrap-around dime to Michael Klekas down low for a bank off the glass.
Grant brought Hug to within two on a deuce, but Dahl hammered home a three from the left side on a dish by Michael Klekas — who opened a seven-point cushion.
Mike became Big Mike, battling for a loose ball and schooling multiple defenders with perfect footwork along the baseline.
Along the left side of the baseline, senior Joshua Kamuka was left alone for a gimme bucket.
To close the half, Cordy drilled a corner three from the right side.
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At the break, Elko led by just two at 28-26.
The lead disappeared to start the third, Grant sticking a midrange jumper from the elbow.
When in doubt, feed the man.
Michael Klekas posted up and buried a fall-away jumper for the Indians from the right side, but Grant once again tied the tally on the other end for the Hawks.
Elko then went on a 10-0 run.
Michael Klekas scored a deuce plus the foul and drilled the freebie, finding junior Calvin Burden ahead of the pack in transition for a layup following a steal.
From a Hug turnover, Michael Klekas was brilliant — pushing the pace, using a hesitation dribble and then putting the defense in the blender.
He spun free and banked in a layup for a 37-30 lead, forcing a timeout with 5:20 remaining in the third.
From the reset, the advantage went to 10 with a three-point play by guess who?
He was set up with a steal and a pretty feed by Calvin Burden, Michael Klekas finishing the old-fashioned three at the stripe.
Grant stemmed the streak with a free throw, but the Indians ripped off another big stretch — closing the third on an 11-0 run.
Zeller jetted out in transition for a layup on the left side, adding Elko’s next deuce for a 44-31 advantage.
Dahl scored from another Hawks turnover, and Michael Klekas put two more on the board.
The third quarter ended with a three by Alvarez, the Indians racking up a 20-point lead.
Going to the fourth, Elko led 51-31.
Senior Garrett McKinney scored to open the fourth quarter, and a bank by Michael Klekas pushed the lead to 55-31.
A 17-0 run was capped by deuce from Dumas on the break from a steal.
Grant continued to play well for Hug, scoring on a pump fake.
McKinney dropped a runner for the Indians from the right wing, but Grant scored for the Hawks after a takeaway.
Michael Klekas smoked a three for a 62-35 lead, but the Hawks ripped off a 6-0 run with a drive through traffic by Cordy and four free throws from Grant.
Dumas tickled the twine on a three from an assist by senior Max Shurtz, and Dahl scored from a dish by Alvarez.
Senior James Phothisane notched a deuce for Hug, but Dahl quickly scored once more the Indians.
Junior Brigg Johnson got in the mix for Elko with a layup on the break, and the scoring was capped by a 1-for-2 trip at the stripe by Hug senior Haron Roscom.
At the final horn, Elko’s season opener was a successful one — the Indians — minus Sean Klekas for the majority of the contest, extending to a 27-point, 71-44 victory.
Elko will play its second game of the Elko Classic at 7:30 p.m. Friday, hosting the Reno Huskies.