CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. -- Christmas came early for Greg Elkins, although it has caused the Ringgold High School boys' basketball coach a bit of what they call in his profession a "good problem."
When baseball stars Matthew Crownover and Adam Weldon decided to play basketball this year as seniors, it suddenly made an already experienced team a very deep one as well. That depth was on full display Tuesday night as the Tigers improved to 8-0 with a 71-48 win at Gordon Lee.
Not only did starters Weldon (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Crownover (12 points, seven rebounds) have huge impacts as the Tigers led from start to finish, but the Ringgold bench played a big part as well.
When senior point guard Steven Williams picked up his second foul late in the first quarter, the Tigers held a 10-point lead, 17-7. However, the Trojans (3-3) picked up their pressure defense and cut the margin to 31-23 by halftime, including a late steal that led to Jack Smith's three-point play and the third foul on Williams.
With Williams, who totaled 11 points, limited in the third quarter because of the foul trouble, freshman Kile Sholl came in and helped revive the Tigers' offense.
"Last year we had a little bit of a problem with depth, but this year, with a couple of kids coming back out to play, it really helps us," said Elkins, who admits his biggest issue is making sure everyone gets enough playing time. "Our catalyst, Steven Williams, went out with foul trouble, and when that happens somebody has to step up, and tonight Kile Sholl came in and did. We're lucky that we have a lot of people coming off the bench who can help us."
Nick Scott led the Tigers with 20 points, but after his two free throws at the 6:12 mark of the third period gave Ringgold a 38-25 lead, the Trojans went on a 7-0 spurt keyed by Daniel Brooks' 3-pointer and driving layup. The lead was still just 10 after Sholl's layup when Gordon Lee coach Ed Clendenen was hit with a technical foul.
Scott hit the two free throws to begin an 8-2 run that seemed to deflate the Trojans, who went until the final few seconds before getting a field goal.
"We hung around, but we didn't play well," Clendenen said. "I'm not taking a thing away from Ringgold -- they were a lot mentally stronger than we were. We were there, but that technical I got changed the game. It took the wind out of our sails, so this one's on me.
"I've got a great bunch in that locker room, and I know this one hurt them tonight, but we're going to come out and be ready to work tomorrow."
Brooks led the Trojans with 15 points.