FITHIAN — Everywhere Kyle Elliott went on the floor, an Armstrong-Potomac defender was there.
It didn’t matter much, though, for the Oakwood senior forward Tuesday.
Elliott drew A-P’s attention throughout the Comets’ 59-48 win against their Vermilion Valley Conference rivals.
A triangle-and-two defense devised to limit Elliott and Oakwood sophomore guard Parker Lee didn’t stifle the playmakers much.
Elliott posted a game-high 22 points and 15 rebounds, and Lee added 16 points and eight rebounds.
“I was disappointed with our defense on Elliott,” A-P coach Mike Twidwell said. “We slacked off Elliott when we shouldn’t have. We knew that the only thing Parker could do was drive to the left, and we let him drive to the left.”
The increased production from Elliott and Lee helped the Comets (6-15, 1-5 VVC) offset the loss of junior forward Skyler Slade, who missed the game with a knee injury but is expected to return Friday at Milford.
“My biggest focus was picking up the slack on the rebounding,” Elliott said. “(Slade’s) averaging double digits in rebounds, so I knew that was a big chunk. I figured I needed to step up and do my share of that.”
Elliott also turned his rebounding prowess into instant offense. A-P (0-20, 0-6) had trimmed its deficit to 30-26 early in the third quarter, but Elliott snared an offensive rebound and converted the putback to put the Comets up 32-26. Elliott did most of his scoring on the interior, but the 6-foot-4 forward also showed his versatility with a deep three-pointer in the first 30 seconds of the third quarter to give the Comets a 30-22 lead.
“I just relied on my teammates to find me,” Elliott said. “Any time I got the ball, I was trying to see if I could score or try to hit the open man because I knew if they focused on me other people would be open.”
Such was the case with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Elliott drew two A-P defenders before throwing a nice wraparound pass to junior forward Andrew Curley for an uncontested layup that extended the Comets’ lead to 50-39 with 2:50 remaining.
“Kyle really stepped up as a leader on this team even with one of our best players out,” Oakwood coach Doug Robinson said. “He put the team on his back and took control of the game. I’m always concerned when one of our key players is out, but I’m confident in the players that we do have. I was able to get a lot of people some playing time since Skyler was out. It worked out for the best.”
Curley added eight points and was a constant defensive presence.
“Andrew Curley is, in my opinion, one of the best defensive players in the conference,” Robinson said. “He doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves. Every time he goes out there, we put him on the other team’s best player, and he works his butt off.”
Senior guard Wade Rogers led A-P with 20 points. Blake Davis (11 points) and Dentler Loschen (10 points) also finished in double figures, but the Trojans only shot 18 of 62 (29 percent) from the field.
“The big thing is we aren’t finishing under the bucket,” Twidwell said. “I didn’t keep track of how many unfinished shots we had in the paint, but it was probably enough to win the game.”