Respecting their Elders – Bruins reap rewards of senior’s work ethic
After being a member of last season’s 3-21 Bear River boys basketball team, Matt Elders took some time to contemplate what life would be like going through another season like the one he had just experienced.
The decision was easy – he was not going to do it again.
Elders was going to have a senior year he could be proud of and in order to do so, he knew he had to commit some serious time in the offseason to sharpening his skills.
Playing in summer league games or picking up a ball every few days was not going to do it and Elders knew that.
Instead, he planned his summer around his trips to the gym, his trips to the high school to spend hours shooting and his trips to the track to run laps to get his body in the shape it needed to be.
He shot thousands of shots, ran hundreds of miles, began doing plyometrics, but most importantly, he gained the confidence he needed to become one of the leaders on his Bruin’s basketball team.
“Matt put the time in to become a better player and worked hard to have a great senior season,” Bear River head coach Jack McCrory said. “His work is a good lesson for everyone. You don’t get there by wishing you did all the things you were suppose to do – you have to actually go out there and get it done.”
Get it done is just what he did. Already one of the better shooters on the team, Elders focused more on his defense, rebounding and aggressiveness when he had the ball. Known more as a set-up shooter, he worked on shooting off the dribble and getting himself in position to receive the many kick-out passes he was sure to see from teammate Jake Lazor running into double teams.
After Lazor earned all-Pioneer Valley League honors last season, it was easy to see that Lazor would become a marked man and someone would need to step up and shoulder more of the scoring burden.
“He is playing better than he did last year – he seems more mature out there now,” Lazor said. “He’s taking advantage of situations we need him to step up in and I still need to find him more than I am now.”
Part of the reason for Elders’ success this year, according to varsity assistant and JV coach Steve Box, is his ability to play with more confidence instead of playing tentatively. Box saw the change occurring during the spring league many players participated in at Sacramento.
“He went from being a small, timid player to a guy who wanted a piece of the action,” Box said. “It was never a question of talent with him, but more of where his mindset was.”
Thus far, the Bear River basketball team has already posted eight wins, almost three times as many as last season, with league play just beginning. Elders has started all 16 games and is averaging 6.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Elders admits that he put in hours upon hours of hard work this summer, but that so far it all seems to be paying off. He’s enjoying his senior year, spending time with all of his friends before they part ways for college and of course keeping up on his hobby of collecting more shoes than he knows what to do with.
His obsession with his foot gear has become a popular joke among his teammates, but one thing is for sure, once they step out onto the court his teammates are sure happy with how hard Elders worked to make this a season worth remembering.
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