AURORA -- The Greenmen boys basketball team earned two solid victories last week, scoring 72 points in both games to beat Streetsboro 72-56 in non-league action and Kent Roosevelt 72-43 in a Suburban League American Conference contest.
Heading into this week's play, the locals stood at 2-5 in the conference and 6-8 overall.
"We're starting to play a lot better," Greenmen junior guard Zach Elsawy said. "We like to share the ball and it's unselfish basketball. That's how people get points."
Streetsboro was a tough challenge, with Keshun Jones wreaking havoc with his speed and Noah Benson and Nehemiah Benson challenging a relatively small Aurora squad inside. Greenmen coach Steve Fleming warned his troops about Jones in particular.
He managed 23 points, but Aurora kept him from taking over the game. And AHS junior forward James Robinson did a nice job making the Benson brothers work for their baskets.
On offense for the Greenmen, a number of guys scored in different ways, with six players between 7 and 17 points. Junior guard Cade Huffman led the way with 17 points, including 10 iin the first quarter. Elsawy added 16, Gavin Blunt had 11, Robinson 9, Donovan Boyle 8 and Alex Ely 7.
"Cade's a talented player," said AHS coach Steve Fleming. "He can score in many ways. He can shoot the ball. We're pretty versatile when you look at Gavin, Donovan can finish, Zach is very talented in terms of having the ability to score the ball, so when we're on offensively, we can be really hard to guard."
Streetsboro scored the first 7 points, but Aurora finished the first half on a 35-18 run.
"Coming slow out of the gates was a little bit disappointing, but it was good to see our guys respond and pick up the pace," said Fleming. "Anytime you can create some offense from your defense, it's a good thing.
"I don't think there's any doubt they enjoy playing up-tempo," Fleming said. "On misses, we definitely want to try numbers. We do have quite a few athletes that we can throw out there and they can run and finish shots. If we can play that way, it's certainly advantageous for us."
"Tonight, we just knew we could force turnovers against their guards and get pressure on them," Elsawy said. "We knew that we could run out in transition. We've got some athletes, so we got our buckets that way."
Leading 19-18, Aurora gathered a long rebound of a Streetsboro missed trey, with Elsawy feeding Robinson for a layup. A bobbled pass from the Rockets allowed Elsawy to again get out on the break, this time finishing it off himself for the 24-18 edge. Elsawy turned another Rockets turnover into another layup and a 26-20 lead.
In those second and third quarters, Aurora seemed too fast for the Streetsboro defense. Blunt slid his way through the heart of the opposition for a 28-21 lead. The Greenmen then fired the ball around the perimeter, finding Elsawy for an open elbow jumper to go up 32-23.
Later, Streetsboro threw a pass into the backcourt, and Blunt raced in to pick up the loose ball and record yet another fast-break 3-point play for the 52-33 lead.
Against Kent Roosevelt, Aurora started slow again, falling behind by 5 points after the opening eight minutes.
However, the Greenmen got things ironed out over the course of the remaining three quarters. Down 16-11 after that first quarter, the locals took control with an 18-7 second-quarter advantage that put them up 29-23 at the half.
"Give Roosevelt credit, they played well early and we didn't," said Fleming. "Their big kid [Jordan Barnes] hurt us; he's huge. We wanted to try to make them guard space, make the big guy guard space. Once we got into it a bit, I thought we played and executed much better."
Things unraveled for the Rough Riders (2-12 overall, 0-7 American Conference) in the second half, as turnovers started to pile up. Aurora led 47-31 going to the final 8 minutes.
Blunt and Elsawy each finished with 12 points to pace a balanced Aurora attack. Huffman and Jack Arnold posted 11 points apiece.
The Greenmen were to play Jan. 31 at Barberton. Games in the next week include Feb. 3 at Highland in conference action and Feb. 7 at home against Woodridge in non-league play.