By CLAUDE SCILLEY
Any number of important contributors to the La Salle Black Knights senior high school basketball victory Tuesday afternoon could wear the hero’s mantle.
You could start with Dan Walton, whose three-point basket with five seconds left in the game with the Holy Cross Crusaders sent the game into overtime.
Or how about Cody Webb, who scored eight points in that four-minute extra period, as La Salle gained a 49-41 win?
Then there’s Braden Elliott, playing with four fouls since the first quarter, who not only managed to stay in the game, but hit a couple of important baskets in the fourth quarter.
All noteworthy achievements, to be sure, but if you’re Knights coach Rom Severino, there’s another player whose name comes immediately to mind.
“Isaac Hetherington did a great job of defending (Jeremy) Pendergast,” Severino said.
Though Pendergast finished with a team-best 14 points for Holy Cross, he scored just three field goals, two of them from beyond the three-point arc.
“Everything goes through him,” Severino said. “Pendergast is a heck of a player and we knew we had to stop him.
“Isaac did a great job. His intensity on defence is tops on our team; he’s one of the best defenders in the league.”
That La Salle was still in the game as the fourth quarter began was remarkable in itself. Only a Mitch Dowd free throw with less than a minute to play prevented the Knights from being shut out in the third quarter.
Holy Cross, however, failed to capitalize. On a day when both teams were coming off the two-week exam break—and in a period where both teams shot poorly enough to make a biddy coach weep—the Crusaders could do no better than to go from three points down at halftime to five points ahead going into the fourth quarter.
Playing with just seven players, Holy Cross managed only two field goals in the fourth quarter as La Salle caught up.
“The boys dug deep when they needed to,” Severino said.
Elliott finished the game with eight points for La Salle, with a splendid display of discipline in the final three periods that belied the bellicose play that led to those four fouls in the first one.
“He did a good job of not being over-zealous,” Severino said. “He remained reasonably aggressive on defence but he didn’t take any unnecessary risks. He kept himself in the game and a couple of times when we were getting really low, he bailed us out with some big shots.”
The win sets the Knights up nicely for the remainder of the season. With a record of 3-5, La Salle has games remaining with 1-6 QE and 0-8 Granite Ridge, and a genuine shot at finishing with a .500 record. The Knights also hold the advantage in potential tie-breakers with Napanee, 3-6, and Holy Cross, 3-4.
“We think this will give us a better first-round playoff matchup,” said Severino, whose team moved within half a game of the fifth-place Kingston Blues, who lost 55-39 at Regi Tuesday.
“We think we can play with anyone,” he continued. “It depends on the day but we like our chances. We’re still improving. We’ve got so much athleticism. Our basketball experience level is lower than a lot of teams in this league but our compete level and joy of the game? I don’t think there’s many teams that go at it like we do.”
Webb finished the game with 16 points for La Salle, scoring his other eight in the first quarter. Mason Kenehan added eight points for the Knights, five of them in the fourth quarter.
Brayden Norris scored 13 points for the Crusaders.
Elsewhere in the Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association Tuesday:
The Napanee Golden Hawks defeated the Queen Elizabeth Raiders 54-53, to join the log jam of teams with three wins jockeying for position for the last three playoff spots. The Loyalist Lancers, meanwhile, stayed within sight of those teams, ending a three-game slide with a 52-32 win over Granite Ridge at Sharbot Lake.
• At Regi, both teams pushed the pace from the start, but turnovers fueled a 9-2 run late in the second quarter that broke open a two-point game and sent the Panthers into halftime with a nine-point lead. A 19-point third quarter essentially put the game away as Regi improved to 6-1 and moved into third place, half a game ahead of idle Bayridge.
Eli Deluzio led the Panthers with 16 points, as the home team won though it got just 10 points from top shooter Duncan Lambert. Sayre Powers scored 13 points for KC, 4-4, in his first game after missing a month with an ankle injury.