(Atlantic) — The Atlantic boys basketball team has seemingly hit their stride as the final weeks of the regular season wind down.
The Trojans (6-5) won three games last week and are suddenly locked in a tight Hawkeye Ten Conference race. Coach Jeff Ebling’s team is even in the loss column atop the league with just one defeat after a 3-0 week that included victories over Red Oak, Harlan and Creston.
“We knew we had a tough week,” Ebling told KMA Sports. “Red Oak was playing good, solid basketball of late, and we knew it would be a tough challenge for us. Harlan was a tough, physical game like it always is, and the Creston game was a tight one.”
The Trojans rolled to a 71-50 victory over Red Oak, pushed past Harlan by a 63-47 count and then edged their way past Creston 55-49.
“We played really well (against Red Oak),” Ebling added. “We came out after seven days off and took control. We kind of controlled the (Harlan game), and that doesn’t happen very often. (Against Creston), we made enough plays down the stretch. It was a week we enjoyed, but we’ve got some unfinished business here over the next two and a half or three weeks.”
That unfinished business starts with a pivotal showdown with St. Albert (7-7, 5-2) later Friday evening.
“They throw multiple defensive looks at you,” Ebling said. “From a 1-2-2 half court and three quarter court look to a 1-3-1. I saw a little 2-2-1 full court and even some triangle-and-two in the Glenwood tape.
“Over the past several days, we’ve been breaking them down one by one to give the guys a look. In the end, the guys understand where they need to be and what they need to do and how they need to do it. It’s just them coming out on Friday night and executing at a high level.”
The execution has been on point of late with senior Skyler Handlos continuing his fine career while averaging 17.1 points per game.
“(Skyler’s) leadership on and off the floor has risen even more,” Ebling said. “He’s been playing varsity now for three years and his maturation process (has come along). We’re starting to see the leadership skills on the offensive and defensive side. He constantly talks during the game on the defensive end of the floor.”
Meanwhile, junior Dayton Templeton has had a breakout season with 10.5 points and 6.6 boards per game. Templeton and senior Garrett Reynolds (7.0 RPG) have shored up the glass – one of the team’s question marks coming into the season.
“We were worried about our rebounding,” Ebling said. “Nile Petersen did a lot of rebounding for us (last season), but this year we’ve actually done very, very well. Dayton has taken a solid step in that aspect, and he’s figuring out that rebounding and getting the ball to guys for open shots is another way to contribute.”
The Trojans follow Friday’s home game with St. Albert with a second meeting against Red Oak on Tuesday before trips to Denison-Schleswig, St. Albert and Harlan. Shenandoah, Clarinda and a second meeting with Denison-Schleswig also remains on the slate. As for the Falcons, Coach Ebling says there is one very large key.
“We have to make sure we take care of the ball,” he said. “When we get a chance to attack we need to attack quickly and efficiently. We hope we can do that on Friday night. It’s easy to say in practice, but we’ll need to produce on Friday night.”
Listen to the complete interview with Coach Ebling from Friday’s UFR linked below.