Brentwood's Elphinstone grabs center stage
At 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, junior center Troy Elphinstone quickly is becoming the go-to guy for Brentwood.
In his first full-year as a varsity starter in the boys' varsity basketball program, Elphinstone leads the Spartans in scoring and rebounding.
He is averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds per game.
“Troy's been dying to get on the floor for the past couple years,” Brentwood head coach Dave Mislan said.
Although not a starter as a freshman and sophomore, Elphinstone came off the bench and says he learned a lot from Michael Kish, who now is a 6-foot-4, 255-pound freshman tight end at the University of Akron.
“I think it helped me out a lot. The big thing with Kish in front of me was he was basically my height, but he was bigger,” Elphinstone said.
“Being behind him, he taught me a couple things like using my body more, going up against people that are stronger than me. He helped me in the weight room too.”
Choosing to focus solely on basketball his sophomore year after also playing football and baseball, Elphinstone knew he would be Brentwood's big man this year, and Mislan has seen the improvement in his game through the first half of the season.
“He's getting a lot better at hanging on to his fouls. If you could see Troy at the end of last year and the summer, he usually used those fouls pretty early,” Mislan said. “He's really become more disciplined and knows when and where to try and block a shot.
“That's been huge for us because a lot of times we need Troy on the floor because of his size.”
With such a long frame, Elphinstone has learned to use his body to his advantage, which will continue to be a focus.
“I kind of had the habit of slapping down when a guy went up for a shot,” Elphinstone said. “Now, I've been working on my position and defense to try and keep my hands up; getting better position just to disrupt the shot.”
A gymrat who doesn't mind working on his game even on off-days, Mislan says Elphinstone has just as much of an impact off the court as on it.
“He's a kid that enjoys practice; enjoys competing in practice. Enjoys everything about being around the gym,” Mislan said.
Elphinstone says seniors like Matt Yasko and Andrew Stofesky have showed him how to be a leader.
“I like to set a good example. I have a lot of seniors on the team that kind of taught me the ways,” Elphinstone said.
“All three of us all the time are in the gym, even if there's not practice, and I think when we get in the gym like that it makes other people want to get in to the gym and work.”
Behind such a solid work ethic, Mislan believes Elphinstone continues to improve each game.
“You can just see the more he's on the floor,” Mislan said. “You can see him by each game understanding the game more.”
Even with the strong start, Elphinstone continues to strive to improve all aspects of his game.
“I want to continue to get stronger,” he said. “My dribbling skills and shooting, and continue my work in the post. There's a lot of stuff to work on.”
Spartans sink Burgettstown, 49-44
Brentwood edged Burgettstown, 49-44, earlier this week behind Elphinstone's game-high 18 points.
The Spartans, who held a 31-20 halftime advantage, improved to 2-4 in Section 4-A and 6-6 overall.
Burgettstown dropped to 1-4 in section play and 2-11 overall with its seventh consecutive loss.
Brentwood is scheduled to play on the road Friday at Fort Cherry, followed by a home game Tuesday against section leader Seton-La Salle.
Justin Criado is a freelance writer.