AMHERST — When Amherst guard Garrett Klekota suffered a knee injury early this summer he worried about his senior basketball season.
After his season-opening performance against Oberlin, it looks like he’s going to be just fine.
Playing just 16 minutes, Klekota scored 17 points, handed out five assists and recorded five steals as the Comets breezed past the Phoenix, 80-34.
“It was good, but it was weird,” Klekota said of his first varsity game since the injury. “It was four months since I played my last basketball game. It was strange to come in and play but I played a lot better than I thought I was going to. I thought I shot the ball well. I still have to get better at attacking the basket because I’m still a little hesitant, but it was a good game to start with.
“I was able to sit half the game, so that was big-time…especially with a game (tonight).”
Playing without a knee brace, Klekota hit 6-of-12 from the floor, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range. He scored nine points in the first quarter as the Comets jumped out to a commanding 20-4 lead.
The Phoenix, who turned the ball over 25 times, never threatened. Amherst opened the second quarter on a 15-3 run to take a 35-9 lead and end any suspense.
“We got off to a real good start in the first quarter,” Comets coach John Srnis said. “The second quarter wasn’t so good because the ball didn’t go in the basket, but I was happy we played out the game. We didn’t go off on our own and everyone played within the offense. There were some positives but we still have a lot we have to work on.”
Nine different Amherst players scored, including four in double figures.
Rees Rua had 13 points, six rebounds and eight steals, Danny Fortney had 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Shane Derricotte added 12 points and six rebounds.
Charles Lewis paced Oberlin with 15 points.
“The kids played hard but at this point we just don’t have the skills to break a quality press like Amherst presented to us,” Oberlin coach Kurt Russell said. “The turnovers really hurt us and our poor shooting hurt us. We have to go back to the drawing board and get better.
“We need a little more confidence in ourselves, and once we get that we should be okay. Right now we’re not that good, but I think we can be.”
When he connected on a 3-pointer from the right wing early in the second quarter, Klekota moved to second place on the Amherst all-time career scoring list. He now has 863 career points.
“Obviously it’s something I want to do, but it’s not the most important thing,” Klekota said of his run at the school scoring record. “I want to get wins. If I wanted to score 30 points tonight I could have stayed in the game and wore my knee out. But it’s a long season and we have a lot of wins yet to get.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amherst 80, Oberlin 34
OBERLIN (34): Jae’Lin Moore 0-1-1, DeVonte Hougland 1-3-5, Dante LaRiccia 2-0-5, Malcolm Allen 0-2-2, Henry Smith 1-0-2, Charles Lewis 4-6-15, Marvin Jackson 1-1-3, Ethan Thomas 0-0-0. Totals 9-14-34.
AMHERST (80): Adam Srnis 3-0-9, Garrett Klekota 6-1-17, Danny Fortney 5-0-12, Rees Rua 5-3-13, Anthony Eliopoulos 1-1-3, Antonio Serrano 2-0-4, Shane Derricotte 6-0-12, Casey McConhie 3-0-7, Rocky Melendez 0-0-0, Dylan Johnson 1-0-3. Totals 32-5-80.
Oberlin 4 14 7 9 — 34
Amherst 20 16 23 19 — 80
Three-point goals: Oberlin 2-9 (LaRiccia, Lewis), Amherst 11-32 (Klekota 4, Srnis 3, Fortney 2, McConhie, Johnson). Field goals: Oberlin 9-45 (20 percent), Amherst 32-72 (44.4 percent); Free throws: Oberlin 14-21 (66.7 percent), Amherst 5-8 (62.5 percent); Rebounds: Oberlin 38 (Hougland 8), Amherst 44 (Fortney 12). Turnovers: Oberlin 25, Amherst 10. Total fouls: Oberlin 9, Amherst 17. Fouled out: Serrano.