East Union’s new head coach wants his team to establish its identity right away.
So far, so good for the Lancers, who routed visiting Franklin 74-32 on Tuesday. It’s the second game under Dalton “Dutch” Ell, who is in his fifth year with the program after previously serving as a varsity assistant and head coach at the lower levels. They buried Buhach Colony at home 87-30 last Friday in their season opener.
“Tonight, we came out from the tip with defensive intensity and that’s what we’re looking for,” Ell said. “I want us to be a team that locks in defensively.”
The Yellowjackets (1-1) struggled with the pressure from the outset, committing 15 turnovers in the first half while falling behind 22-25 and 43-19 after the first two quarters. East Union forced 26 turnovers in all.
The Lancers scored the first 11 points of the game, and Franklin — after getting two free throws from Alex Hurley — did not make a field goal until Mohamed Kamara scored on a fastbreak opportunity with 3:21 left in the first quarter.
Franklin got untracked offensively in the second quarter when it netted 15 points but was held to four and nine in the final two periods.
Dylan Lee, playing for a third different coach in his four-year varsity career, enjoys the pace of play. The 6-foot-2 point forward finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and seven steals.
“He’s really positive and gets us to play really hard,” he said of Ell. “It’s evident in the way that we play with the press. He likes it to be super-fast paced, he encourages that and we all play hard for him.
“Tonight, it was a little sloppy, but the effort is there. Just gotta clean up some minor things and go from there.
Alex Cuevas added 16 points, and Anthony Sy had 14. Hurley finished with 13 points to pace Franklin.
“This year, we have a lot of scorers,” Lee said. “We try not to force too much, just try to hit the open guy. It’s been working so far, so that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
A health teacher at EU, the 28-year-old Ell hails from Pennsylvania where he prepped at Holy Redeemer High and played collegiately for King’s College. He graduated with a chemistry degree and attended medical school before heading out west in 2017 in pursuit of an acting career.
Ell calls his current opportunity at East Union “a gift and a privilege.”
“I played for some pretty legendary coaches back east, so I’ve been able to bring some East Coast basketball over here to the West Coast,” Ell said. “I strive to show these kids what a committed coach can do. These kids know I’m in their corner for the rest of their lives. I’m here to make a difference.
“They know that, no matter what, it’s about the young men that I put out into the community after they leave here.”
East Union 62, Franklin 25
The Lancers erupted for 21 points in the second quarter for a 32-10 lead and didn’t look back.
Blake Mount led the way with 13 points, and Robbie Espinosa chipped in 11. East Union had 10 different scoring contributors.