Elks bas­ket­ball af­fected by school’s ap­pear­ance in state foot­ball cham­pi­onship

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

The Elk­ton foot­ball team is a lit­tle more than a week away from play­ing in its first state cham­pi­onship game since 2000. While that’s good news for the school, the Golden Elks boys’ bas­ket­ball team will be feel­ing the ef­fects.

Elk­ton, which be­gins its sea­son on Tues­day against Ris­ing Sun, will open the year with a skele­ton ros­ter and plenty of question marks as a ma­jor­ity of the team’s even­tual play­ers are still com­pet­ing on the gridiron. One year after win­ning the Susque­hanna Di­vi­sion and earn­ing a pro­mo­tion to the Ch­e­sa­peake, the Elks’ en­core cam­paign will likely be slow-mov­ing out of the gate.

“You can’t fault the foot­ball play­ers for be­ing suc­cess­ful,” fifth-year coach Elk­ton coach Joe Zang said. “We’re go­ing to be play­ing catchup. It’s not how we start, it’s how we fin­ish. We may be a lit­tle be­hind the eight ball to get started, but at the end, in March, ev­ery­one makes the play­offs and we’re go­ing to be ready to go by then.”

Even though his pro­jected key con­trib­u­tors aren’t on the court yet, Zang, who will hold­ing a sec­ond try­out fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of the foot­ball sea­son, sees the sil­ver lin­ing in an oth­er­wise un­for­tu­nate situation.

“If you think about it, the group of guys who are on the foot­ball team, and those on the bas­ket­ball team now, they’re used to win­ning. Re­gard­less of the sport, these guys are com­pet­i­tive,” Zang said. “They have a lot of suc­cess year in and year out and there’s no way to sim­u­late that ex­pe­ri­ence.

“You think about it, the last two years we’ve been in the sec­tional fi­nal [in bas­ket­ball], played on the big stage in some big tour­na­ments and the foot­ball team, as well. They went to the re­gional cham­pi­onship [in 2015] and now a state cham­pi­onship. That counts for some­thing. That’s very valu­able.”

The Golden Elks will pre­pare for the chal­lenge of the up­per di­vi­sion fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful 2015-16 cam­paign in which they went 18-6 over­all, in­clud­ing a 13-1 mark in the Susque­hanna.

Zang also sched­uled tough out-of-con­fer­ence con­tests, in­clud­ing games against Ne­wark (Del.), and reign­ing 2A East Re­gion cham­pion Queen Anne’s.

The end goal for Elk­ton is to es­cape the sec­tion fi­nals, where it has suf­fered losses each of the past two post­sea­sons.

“I think play­ing in the up­per di­vi­sion is go­ing to be huge, I think play­ing a dif­fi­cult outof-con­fer­ence sched­ule is go­ing to be huge,” Zang said. “We know what it takes to get past the sec­tion fi­nals re­gard­less of who we play. [Those losses] can only make you stronger and make you bet­ter and that’s what we’re hop­ing this year.”

Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @ce­cil­whig.com

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

The Elk­ton boys’ bas­ket­ball team, led by coach Joe Zang, pic­tured, will com­pete in the Ch­e­sa­peake Di­vi­sion this sea­son.

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