Eli Teslovich is always thinking on the break. The 6-foot-1 Shady Side Academy senior guard has the clearest mind when he’s on the move.

Teslovich has an idea of his best spots to shoot from and what defenders may be collapsing to require him to kick to teammates. Teslovich and Shady Side Academy have been playing at a deliberately faster place since losing their Section 3-3A opener 46-41 to Burrell.

The Bulldogs have fully shaken off their 2-4 start and were 13-6 overall and 9-2 in section heading into their section finale against first-place Deer Lakes. Teslovich, who averages a team-high 20 points per game and has more than 1,500 points in his career, has been more under control this season.

"I’ve really improved when going to the hoop and staying under control,” said Teslovich, who has drawn interest to play at Washington & Jefferson. "I’ve only drawn one charge this year. Last year, I had a lot. It’s helped me to find my teammate sand score the ball. I need to keep developing my outside shot.”

Coach David Vadnais isn’t sure why the Bulldogs don’t play well at a more measured pace. But he doesn’t believe many people would complain about watching how the Bulldogs play in transition. Shady Side Academy averages 63.5 points per game, which is second in the section behind Deer Lakes, which averages 65.3 points per game.

"That’s the million-dollar question. I don’t have an answer to that,” Vadnais said. "I think our guys are able to be more successful out in space. I think every team would prefer to play 3-on-2 or 4-on-4 instead of 5-on-5 when defense is set up. We changed our practices to quick outlet passes and get the ball in transition early in the year.”

The Bulldogs have a number of players who have been crashing the glass. Ben Michaels, a 6-5 center, Ryan Frholich, a 6-3 guard/forward, and Cam Mallory, a 6-4 sophomore forward, are all looking upcourt once they bring the ball in.

"I think it starts with our rebounding,” Teslovich said. "Ryan, Ben and Cam are good at throwing outlets. We’ve been good at getting spots filled. We’ve filled the corner and the wing. We’ve been able to really speed things up.”

Vadnais said Teslovich is one of the best guards in the WPIAL.

"He’s a leader and does things well to make the team better,” Vadnais said. "I feel like Eli has been one of the most under-recruited players in the WPIAL.”

The Bulldogs hope their slow start has them flying under the radar. Shady Side Academy lost Nate Mallory for the season before the year started. Michaels also missed the first month of the season due to an injury.

While starting the year 2-4 wasn’t easy for the players, Teslovich said Shady Side Academy used the opportunity to make important changes.

"It was difficult,” Teslovich said. "The most important thing for us was sticking together. We knew at the start of the season we had to change things we didn’t expect to change.”

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