GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Anyone who knows La Salle basketball coach Dan Fleming clearly knows the conversation starts and ends with defense.
There is no out of bounds in practice. Fouls aren’t called. Players are disciplined for a lack of defensive fundamentals. They risk getting chewed out -- or worse, taking a seat on the bench.
So on a night without senior standout guard CJ Fleming, who took the game off because of a shoulder injury, and an 0-for-10 mark on 3-pointers, the Lancers took great pride in their hustle and defense.
La Salle defeated Elder 41-36 in the Greater Catholic League South division opener for both teams at sold-out Billy Cady Court.
La Salle led 8-6 after the first quarter, and the game was tied at 12 at halftime. The Lancers were 6 of 17 shooting from the field in the first half.
Inside the locker room, Dan Fleming put up all the halftime scores from the first seven games this season for his players. Two of the games had opponents with more than 15 points at intermission -- 18 and 20 points respectively.
The other five games were under 15. The challenge was set.
"That’s all we talk about here -- defense and effort," said Dan Fleming, who has 435 career wins. "I thought our guys tried like anything. I thought they gave great effort. I thought they got loose balls and everything. We just couldn’t throw it in the ocean."
La Salle started the third quarter on a 9-0 run and extended their lead to 21-12 at the 5:06 mark.
The Lancers pushed the lead to 10 (29-19) at the end of the third quarter on senior guard Tre Crigler’s fadeway jumper.
La Salle senior forward Joe Hartmann pushed the lead to 37-26 after a field goal and a free throw with just under four minutes left, but Elder went on an 8-1 run the next two minutes. Their surge was keyed by two 3-pointers from junior guard Brett Marsh and a steal and dunk by senior forward Dashawn Mosley. Marsh’s layup with under a minute closed the gap to 39-36, but the Panthers never got closer.
Hartmann scored a career-high 15 points to go along with a game-high eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
He stayed late after the shootaround Friday afternoon to practice elbow jumpers. He made his first attempt in the first quarter. Dan Fleming said Hartmann is confident around the basket and he was happy with the offensive production.
"Out there without CJ, it was pretty tough for us," Hartmann said. "We knew that coming in. But, coach told us nothing changes."
CJ Fleming, a player of the year candidate and son of the La Salle coach, injured his shoulder in the Kingdom of the Sun tournament in Florida Dec. 30. He is expected to be out at least a week.
"Day by day, he is getting better," Dan Fleming said. "He said he’s feeling better. The trainers said they’ve done different things and it’s stepping up his rehab. He’s making progress. When he’s healthy, we will put him back in."
La Salle junior guard Riley Haubner added 11 points and seven rebounds. He was 7 of 9 from the free-throw line.
"It’s awesome playing at home in front of this crowd, especially a GCL game," Haubner. "That’s always a big win. You got to be on a different level. I felt like our team was on a different level tonight and that really helped us."
Crigler, who handled the ball more in CJ Fleming’s absence, had eight points.
"Riley stepped up, Joe stepped up big," Crigler said. "It was just great to see us being a La Salle team and playing hard for each other to get the win."
La Salle (7-1) plays at Roger Bacon (9-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Elder (4-4) was led by Mosley, who had 15 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Senior Shaun Sullivan had nine points and Marsh had eight.
Elder next plays host to St. Xavier (4-6) Jan. 13.
Elder (4-4, 0-1 GCL South) – Marsh 3 2 8, Sullivan 3 3 9, Harp 1 0 2, Mosley 7 0 15, Dabbelt 1 0 2. Totals: 15 3 36
La Salle (7-1, 1-0 GCL South) – Hartmann 7 1 15, Crigler 3 2 8, Haubner 2 7 11, Richardson 1 2 4, Brandon 1 1 3. Totals: 14 13 41
Halftime score: 12-12. 3-pointers: E 3 (Marsh 2, Mosley). L 0.