Boys basketball: Earlville routs Leland for 20th win of season

Red Raiders reach 20-win mark for first time since 1955-56

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EARLVILLE - The Earlville boys basketball team showed no signs of rust Wednesday after being away from the court the last two days due to inclement weather canceling school.

Oliver Munoz drove the baseline for a bucket on Earlville’s first possession, and the Red Raiders set the tone defensively as Trenton Fruit swiped a steal on Leland’s first trip down the floor.

Earlville raced out to a 16-point lead and cruised to a 77-37 victory in a Little Ten Conference game.

“I think we played well as a team,” Earlville senior Ryan Browder said. “We got the flow back going after we had a couple days off with snow days. We played well. Got the passes going, got the offense going and played well on defense getting turnovers.”

The Red Raiders improved to 20-1 overall and 6-0 in the conference.

“We are so happy,” Earlville coach Gerald Fruit said. “It’s been a long time since Earlville’s had 20 wins. After the game we went in [the locker room] and congratulated ourselves on that accomplishment.”

Earlville last won 20 games in 1955-56, when the Red Raiders finished 24-5.

“We came into the season knowing we could be a good team but we had to work hard for it,” Browder said. “It feels good to get 20 wins. Nobody really knew we could come out and do this.

“There’s almost no words for it. It’s crazy to think we’re one of a few teams to do this here.”

The Red Raiders led 24-8 after the first quarter, pushed it to a 20-point advantage at 28-8 on a fast-break bucket by Adam Waite and extended the lead to 46-15 by halftime.

“We came out solid,” Earlville senior Griffin Cook said. “We played good defense in the first half, held them to 15 points, and we ran the floor well. We talked about just getting an early lead so guys on the bench could get in.”

The Red Raiders pestered the Panthers into 16 turnovers in the first half, including six on steals.

“Just pressure the ball, trap when we can and force them to make bad passes,” Cook said about how the Red Raiders created turnovers.

Earlville converted the 16 first-half miscues by Leland (7-14, 0-7) into 26 points.

“That led to our offense a lot of the time,” Browder said. “We tried to outlet the ball, get it up the floor as fast as we can.”

The Red Raiders, who return to action Friday at LaMoille, had 10 players get into the game and had eight different players score.

Waite led the way with 19 points; Browder finished with 17 points and four steals; Cook had 14 points, six assists and four steals; Trenton Fruit contributed nine points, seven steals and five assists; and Munoz added nine points.

Dalton Hannel scored 11 points, and Gunnar Nelson hit three 3-pointers for nine points for Leland, which plays Friday at DePue.