This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.04/11/2023 07:45 AM
Being a multi-sport athlete can pose challenges in itself, especially when it comes to balance, motivation and overall skill. Elliot Koplas excelled in all three of those areas as a proven key ball handler and point guard for the Westbrook boys’ basketball team this winter.
The junior at Westbrook High School, who also plays soccer and tennis, developed a love for basketball at a young age and never looked back, developing into a strong leader and valuable on-court asset along the way.
“I have been playing since I was around 9 years old when I joined a travel team to play with my friends,” says Elliot. “I just started playing on a travel team in 4th grade and mainly did it to play with my friends and just have fun.”
Have fun is something Eliott has certainly continued to do throughout his basketball tenure into high school, as Westbrook boys’ basketball Head Coach Jeff Beeman has seen his enjoyment of the game help to propel his confidence to another level.
“[Eliott was] one of our hardest working and most coachable players this year. It took him awhile to accept and gain the confidence to realize what I knew all year, that he belonged on the varsity court and was a good basketball player,” says Beeman. “Basketball is a third sport for him, which I understand, but I hope he will carve out some time to work on basketball because the team will need him to help carry the scoring load next year.”
The Knights had an overall 2022-23 record of 2-18 and a Shoreline Athletic Conference (SLC) record of 1-16. Despite the season not going as planned for Westbrook, Eliott still enjoyed being around his teammates every day and being able to improve his game.
“It was a rough season, losing some very close games coming down to the final minutes,” says Elliot. “We all showed up the next day at practice working to get better and having fun doing it.”
Beeman notes that Elliot started for the Knights all season, growing into his role, showing that he was capable of being a key player on the team.
“He started trying to do more and not being quite so conservative, which he needed to do. We struggled most of the year from a record standpoint,” says Beeman. “From the first day until the end, we were competing more and a lot of that had to do with Koplas starting to do more. He took some of the pressure off and I am just really happy for him.”
Elliot echoes his coach’s thoughts about coming out of his shell as the winter progressed, saying that he became more productive on offense.
“At the beginning of the season I was very nervous and afraid to shoot the ball,” says Eliott. “However, throughout the season with the help of my teammates and coaches, I was able to believe more in my shooting and help put points on the board.”
Certain games just stand out to players when they reflect on the season. In Elliot’s case, there was a game in which he had late-game possessions, scoring 10 points and collecting boards to show his versatility. Another game that Elliot particularly enjoyed was the Senior Night game due to the fact that the Knights were able to end the season on a high note.
“[My most memorable game was] definitely our last game of the season on Senior Night. We were looking for a win to end the season after not qualifying for states or Shorelines. We were able to work together,” says Elliot. “I helped by making two huge three-pointers to not only put our team up, but get all the fans on their feet cheering for us. In a small school we don’t always have that, so that experience for me and my teammates will definitely be one to remember.”
Looking forward to next season, Beeman hopes to see Elliot jump into more of a leadership role with his teammates, something the coach has no doubt he will be able to succeed with.
“What I would look for is his leadership, which I think he can do without a doubt. He is going to have to score the ball and have to be one of the primary ball handlers,” says Beeman. “He is going to have some responsibilities next year, but as I watch him through tennis, he is maturing, getting physically and mentally stronger. I have no doubt that he can handle that.”
Elliot also looks forward to stepping up to be one of the top varsity players next season and putting up competitive stat lines.
“I’m looking forward to having new players step up into starting varsity spots, as last year we only had two junior starters and a limited varsity rotation,” says Elliot. “I’m looking forward to seeing how new players will step up to their roles and how we can have a successful season.”