By Joe Cardello
The Essex Reporter
With an injured Cody Green Hornet head coach Jesse Coutrayer gave senior guard Nate Miles the opportunity to take on the role of point guard against South Burlington on Friday. The EHS boys’ basketball team downed the Rebels in overtime 45-37 for their eighth win this season.
South Burlington entrenched themselves in a 2-3 zone on defense that night to prevent Hornet baskets. All season the Hornets have had trouble confronting aggressive zone defenses.
“We struggled with their active and tough zone; it really frustrated Eli in the first half,” Coutrayer said.
Essex’s primary scorer Eli DiGrande was held to a mere two points during the entire first half and picked up two fouls early on. In a move of caution Coutrayer decided to have Digrande benched for a greater part of the first half.
With their lead scorer benched and starting point guard out with an injury the Hornets struggled to score during the second quarters. However the team handled the ball with care and played intense defense in order to keep the lead throughout the majority game.
Once the second half came around DiGrande was back to knocking down shots and put away 14 for the Hornets.
“We gave up a five-point lead with a minute or so to go,” Coutrayer said. “And they hit a buzzer beater. So I give them all the credit in the world. But in overtime we just took over.”
DiGrande nailed all four of his free throw attempts in the extra period and helped the Hornets outscore the Rebels 12-4 for the win.
The junior guard/forward put away 16 for the Hornets and Matt Wu posted nine for the night. DiGrande’s scoring was pivotal in the Hornet victory, but Courtrayer offered up praise to another player as well.
“We wouldn’t have been in the game if it wasn’t for the play of Nate miles who stepped in for the injured Cody green,” Courtrayer said. “He played great defense and handled the point guard duties all night for us.”
On Tuesday the Hornets went to Burlington. The last time these two teams met the Hornets were out scored 65-29. Courtrayer admits this matchup will be tough for his team and hopes that his boys will be better prepared.
“Our goal is to contain their 3-point shooting as well as contain their driving ability,” Courtrayer said. “They play such great defense that we have to be strong with the ball and we can’t make many mistakes. We have to know and run our stuff in order to have a chance. I think we match up with them size wise, but Matt Johnson is such a good coach that his team is always ready to play. We have to match that.”
The Hornets will play in Colchester on Friday and will go to CVU on Tuesday.