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Post players Ellis, Ivey out to take Eagles to new heights

This is the third in a series of local basketball previews. Thursday: Porters Chapel Academy; Friday: St. Aloysius.

Porters Chapel Academy is hoping that a couple of lofty players can carry them to lofty heights this season.

Joseph Ivey and Tyler Ellis, a pair of 6-foot-4 sophomores, are being counted on to help open up the offense, pour in some points of their own and help PCA improve on last season’s 7-17 record.

“Not many single-A teams have two kids that are that big,” PCA coach Roger Browning said, adding that he expects Ivey in particular to do more than just take up space. “I’m going to expect 20 to 25 points a game out of him.”

When told of his coach’s expectations, Ivey just smiled and promised to do his best.

“I hope I can,” he said. “I think people might expect that, with me being a big guy. I just hope I can contribute that much to the team.”

Ivey played just a few games on the varsity level at the end of last season, but that wasn’t Browning’s call. Ivey wanted another year of junior high ball to work on his game, and decided to stay on that level for one last year.

It proved to be a good move. He dominated the junior high ranks, averaging 21 points per game. In several of PCA’s games, he wasn’t just the high scorer, he was the only scorer.

“I felt like I needed more gametime experience. It took me a long time to decide whether or not to play down or move up, but I just think I needed more experience and more playing time,” Ivey said.

Ivey didn’t just dominate smaller players to prepare for his new role as a varsity starter, however. Over the summer he lifted weights, bulked up to 205 pounds, worked on jumping drills and worked to improve his post moves and shot.

“His shooting percentage in practice has probably jumped 40 to 50 percent,” Browning said, adding that Ivey often makes adjustments on his own.

“Ivey has come a long way since last year,” said PCA point guard Trey White, who worked with Ivey over the summer. “He takes the ball up a lot stronger and he’s the one I feel like I click with best.”

An effective Ivey, together with Ellis, should help to open up the offensive end of the floor for PCA. Last season they relied on White and departed senior Jeff Kertis for the bulk of their offense most of it on outside shots and 5-foot-11 Andrew Embry was the team’s leading rebounder.

Now, the Eagles can look inside or outside for shots, and better looks from outside the paint are sure to follow good shots inside it. Not to mention the edge the Eagles will gain in rebounding when Ivey and Ellis are in the game together.

“We haven’t been a big rebounding team. Honoring that threat down there is going to help us a lot,” senior guard Richard Carroll said.

While teams can look at some film to learn about Ivey, Ellis is an X-factor even to his teammates. A Warren Central transfer, Ellis is in his first year at PCA and still learning how to play with his new team. Like Ivey, he hopes to contribute as much as he can.

“As far as I know, we’re both good post players. We can both shoot and we’ve got Trey White, who’s a great point guard,” Ellis said. “From what I know and what they told me, Porters Chapel hasn’t had height and I think that’ll complete this team.”