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Home > Articles > High School Sports > Regi withstands Holy Cross rally to win Memorial

Regi withstands Holy Cross rally to win Memorial

Posted: January 16th, 2015 @ 12:17am


Last year around this time, Tom McCabe came to Ed Kenney with an unusual request.

“It’s funny,” Kenney, coach of the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers recalled Thursday night. “When we played the Memorial game last year, he came to me and said, ‘Can I at least sit on the bench.’ When he said that I thought, ‘We’re getting him next year.’”

Sure enough, McCabe did return to the Panthers this year, after two years away from basketball, and at this year’s 26th annual Memorial contest in support of cancer research Thursday night, his was one of the pivotal performances in Regi’s 61-56 victory over the Holy Cross Crusaders.

The setter on Regi’s OFSAA champion volleyball team, McCabe played basketball in Grade 9 but he was beset by injuries the past two years. “I taught him,” Kenney said. “He’s a wonderful young man, and we were hopeful that he would play.

“(Tonight) he gave us some plays that gave us some splash.”

McCabe came off the bench early in the game and by the time the first quarter was over he’d blocked a shot, stolen the ball once and scored eight points.

“That energized us,” Kenney said, “and when you’re a young, emotional group, once that happens you kind of get back up and play the way you want to. If that doesn’t happen, and the next thing isn’t good, you’ve got to wait for the splash, and he did it two or three times.”

Holy Cross jumped to a 6-0 lead and had the initiative until late in the opening period, when McCabe scored from underneath the basket. He promptly stole the ensuing inbounds pass and laid it back in, completing a four-point spurt that put Regi ahead 13-12.

The Panthers trailed only once after that.

“If we’re going to play this athletic style, we can take a kid, and give them four or five things and just let them go,” Kenney said. “If we played spot to spot and gave them a lot of rules, we’d be missing that athleticism.

"It can be frustrating. At Bayridge (Tuesday), we lost because we didn’t execute as well as (Bayridge did), we didn’t grind out the details, but we can’t let the details get in the way. We’re just too athletic.”

McCabe was one of a handful of players who Kenney thought played a courageous game. “We had some young men who really bit down and covered kids who are a lot bigger, both taller and wider,” he said. “Nick Savoie, Liam Huntley—Tom McCabe was awesome.

“Tommy’s as tall as those kids and he can certainly fly, but he’s giving up 25 pounds to them.”

More than once Regi looked to be in command of the game. The Panthers led by nine points at halftime, again by nine at the end of three quarters, and they promptly took it to 14 points at the start of the fourth.

In front of a packed house at Holy Cross, the Crusaders weren’t done. A 9-2 run drew them within four points at 53-49, and when Xavier Mahoney hit a three-point shot with 1:40 to play Holy Cross was suddenly just two points down, at 56-54.

The Panthers collected themselves, however, and back-to-back baskets by Eli Deluzio and Duncan Lambert put Regi into a 60-54 lead with a minute to go. At that point, Holy Cross had no further answer.

“From six minutes to three minutes (to play), we didn’t play very well,” said Kenney, whose team improved to 5-1. “We got going east-west, across the court, and the Holy Cross kids were jumping. They had to; they were behind, but the last three minutes was great. Not only did we share the ball well, we got layups. We got layups taking advantage of an aggressive team.”

An important element, Kenney said, was his team’s ability to control the game’s tempo.

“When you score, you can press,” he said. “If you don’t score, then you’re just waiting for them to come down the floor. We were fortunate. We scored enough that it allowed us to play an extended defence. If we had not scored enough, we would have been forced to play defence in our key against kids that are skilled and much bigger than we are.”

Crusaders coach Alf DeMelo called it a game of runs, one where the teams took turns scoring in streaks.

“We just forget the team aspects, and start focusing individually,” he said. “We fall apart very easily. We struggle with having that vocal leader on the floor, where he can slow things down, calm things down. That’s why we go up and down quite a bit.

“That’s the challenge we’ve had all year.”

DeMelo said a timeout will usually regroup his players. “They respond,” he said. “They show a lot of character.

“Some boys would crumple but (our guys) were mad, they came back. In this environment it’s very difficult, but they fought back. It’s just a little loose ball, a three-point shot four feet off the line—we’re not getting those little bounces that we need right now.”

For a good part of the game, it looked like the Crusaders would live or die by the three-point shot. They hit nine of them in the game, but they missed a lot of shots from beyond the arc in the second quarter and in a nine-point third quarter, Holy Cross didn’t score a single two-point basket.

“It’s not supposed to be like that,” De Melo said, “but that goes with the one-on-one (mentality). We’ve been preaching team ball, get all five guys involved, be patient with the ball, utilize our strength inside, and that’s how we jumped out to a 6-0 lead—we were patient; we had balance; going inside and then hitting outside shots, but then we get rushed and guys just kind of see that they’re going to take it over themselves. That’s where the three balls (come in).”

Holy Cross slipped to 3-3, but DeMelo believes his team can compete with anyone.

“We have,” he said, “but it’s getting to crunch time. We’ve got to worry about our game and not worry about anyone else’s, and maintain some sort of consistency.

“Our goal is the playoffs. That’s what we’ve been preaching all year: you’ve got to be ready to win three (playoff) games. Hopefully every game that we play, we’re getting better, so when we’re in the playoffs, we can learn from these defeats.”

Deluzio led Regi with 19 points, while Lambert scored 14. McCabe finished the game with 11 points, all of them in the first half.

Braydon Norris scored 15 points for Holy Cross, which got 13 points from Jeremy Pendergast and 12 from Luciano Troiani.


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