Titans duo set sights on title

TEAMWORK: Tre Eli and Alan Russel credit York Mills’ 5-1 record to a tighter team.

Like their Titan namesake, cagers Tre Eli and Alan Russel bring the strength of Atlas and the wits of Prometheus to York Mills senior boys basketball.

Burning a path to a North Region title at 5-1 before the holiday break, Eli and Russel said they are pleased with their reversal of the previous year’s 1-8 record.

“I guess the problem we had was that we were a really young and inexperienced team with 13 juniors,” Russel said. “We really weren’t ready as a team.”

This season brought with it a new direction: to tighten the bond among the players.

“This year that’s what we tried to focus on, just to be a family,” Eli said. “That’s why we’re winning a lot of games because we win together.”

That was evident with a tight 50-49 win over Earl Haig to start things off. Their only loss has come from division rivals Georges Vanier.

York Mills headed into a December hiatus with a 73-62 win over George S. Henry Lions. Eli had 43 points.

Russel admitted sometimes it’s a challenge to find a role when his partner in crime is putting his soul to the hole.

“Tre is definitely averaging something like 20 points a game right now,” he said. “It’s always tough to get scoring in when your teammate is doing that, but my team is just trying to find bits and pieces of the puzzle that we can fill.”

Eli and Russel agreed it’s all about maintaining that family feeling. Big moments that have kept the team surging are Russel’s half-court shot and teammate Jules Collins throwing down the dunk against the Lions.

But the difference this year is defence, leading to such double-digit games for Eli.

“It’s a lot easier to score because myself, I like to run the wing and so our defence gets a lot of stops so it’s just a lot of transitions,” he said. “I can just run up the floor and then it’s just lay-ups.”

Right after the break, the boys will be heading up to Ottawa to take part in a tournament. Then they’ll be back for two crossover matches with the West’s Mackenzie Lyons Jan. 4 and Boylen Skyhawks Jan. 11.

Eli is optimistic about claiming top spot in the North, especially if they can perform against teams like C.W. Jefferys Saints and Downsview Mustangs.

“This will be a test for us because if we can beat teams in the west we can beat teams in our own division,” he said.

As for chemistry, well it’s more biology. Eli and Russel have a symbiotic relationship after playing with each other for four years in high school and academy hoops.

“We have such a good relationship that on the court it’s strictly business,” Eli said. “We go at each other when we’re doing something wrong. We don’t take it personally.”

To have a peer to bounce strategy off of has been ideal through the Titans’ 2010-11 campaign.

“When you have four days of ball with one person, your chemistry is definitely going to be awesome,” Russel said. “I think this is our peak moment in our final season.”

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