By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Ten days after walking off a cold, muddy football field in Lake Country, eight El Molino athletes found themselves in shorts and sweating in the Elsie Allen High gym Monday night.
However, the outcome of their 2010 basketball debut turned out to be a downer as the Lions lost to Elsie Allen, 36-34.
“It was a quick turnaround from football to basketball,” said Joe Douglass, who caught 40 passes and scored nine touchdowns for the Lions’ football team. “The two sports are so different. We know we’ll have to play ourselves into basketball shape and this game will help our conditioning.”
El Molino rallied to take a 31-30 lead with 5:25 remaining, but scored only three points the rest of the way.
The Lobos took the lead for good, 32-31, when Sean Thomas scored off an in-bounds play at the 4:15 mark. Following an El Molino miss, Jennaty Him made a three-point play the old-fashioned way. The senior was fouled while banking in a lay-up with 3:47 to go and converted the free throw.
Douglass had a chance to bring El Molino back, but his rustiness showed. He missed two free throws with 1:46 to go and then the senior missed a put back.
“My free throw shooting was really off,” Douglass said. “During football season, I went three months without shooting a basket. I just don’t have my shooting touching, yet.” He missed all three of his free-throw attempts.
“The breathing and conditioning for the two sports are totally different,” Douglass added. “In basketball, you run harder for a longer period of time and go full speed. You use a lot more energy in basketball.
“I’ve been doing this all four years of high school, so by now I know what to expect. The football guys started practicing last Tuesday, so we still have a ways to go to catch-up. Actually, we’re starting off better than we have the last couple of years.
The eight football players hung up their cleats on Nov. 27 when the Lions lost at Middletown, 27-13, in the second round of North Coast Section Division IV playoffs. The game was played on a muddy field in cold, rainy conditions.
On Monday, Douglass was El Molino’s leading scorer with seven. Tyler Elderkin and football player Jordan Nordby each had six. Elderkin had 12 rebounds.
Besides Douglass and Nordby, other football players on the El Mo squad are: Cal Sandeen, John Carlson, Taylor Davis, Levi Karns, Chet Lambert and Nate Palmer.
Him got the Lobos off to a fast start with nine in the first half as the Lobos built a 23-17 lead at intermission. The senior finished with 16, including the three-point play that gave his team breathing room late.
Elsie Allen is now 1-1 while El Molino is 1-2.
“I thought we played well in the first half and had a chance to take El Molino right out of the game,” said Lobos coach Madison Lott. “We didn’t execute in the fourth quarter and let them back in. We’re young and inexperienced, so they showed some poise to come back after losing the lead.”
Lott knew he could be in for a long year when last year’s three leaders — Buddy Johnson, Jonathan Taggert and Billy McCarty — graduated.
“Those three guys combined for nearly 50 points a game for us last year,” Lott said. “We’ve got a young team now and our program is regrouping. We’re all happy to come away with this win.”