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Impact ready to host weekend basketball games
Posted: March 20th, 2013 @ 3:37pm
Paul Coulter has lofty expectations of his basketball team this weekend. The coach believes the Kingston Impact is capable of winning two of the three games it will host as part of a Juel league weekend of play at Queen's University.
The greatest expectation, however, concerns the game he doesn't expect his team to win.
"The Brampton game," he said, "will be a real test."
Coulter suggests that the Brampton Warriors, the only team in the 18-team league undefeated at 8-0, and Hamilton Transway, one of a handful of clubs at 7-1, are the two best teams in the province. "The last time we played Transway," he said, "we didn't handle it very well."
To avoid repeating that kind of experience Coulter and his players had a chat this week.
"I'm not asking them to go out and beat them but I'm asking them to be competitive," he said. "We weren't against Hamilton."
In that game, Coulter recalled, his disappointment arose less from the lopsided outcome - the Impact was thumped 81-24 - but what characterized it.
"When you're down by 30, it's easy to come down the court and just take a shot, not run your set," he said. "It's easy not to dive for that loose ball. This team does that all the time but we didn't do it that one game when all of a sudden things were not going our way.
"Brampton is going to be one of those games where, physically and athletically, our matchups are going to be very difficult, but we can handle it in a more positive way, still do what we can control."
If more recent history counts for anything, Coulter should have reason to be optimistic. Injuries riddled his team of senior high-school girls when they last played three weeks ago in Mississauga and a club that began the weekend with just nine players finished with seven, and one of them wasn't Sarah Besselink, the team's captain and pre-eminent player.
The seven survivors, Coulter said, played heroically.
After losing by six points in a game where his players were 6-for-20 from the free-throw line, the Impact roared to a 14-point lead in the second quarter against North Toronto when it was beset by injuries. By halftime, the Kingston team was down to seven healthy athletes after Besselink severely sprained an ankle.
"We played 24 minutes with seven girls and we (won)," Coulter said. "We only won by four but they hung onto that lead.
"You don't play at this level with seven people very often and be successful against a good team. It is an incredible testament to the players' character, their resolve. Also when you lose a player of Sarah's calibre, sometimes as an athlete you think, 'Oh, no,' but they didn't do that. They said, 'You know what? We'll battle through this."
In the final game of the weekend the Impact ran out of gas, Coulter said. "We ended up losing but we outscored them in the fourth quarter," he said. "That's a huge deal for girls who were that tired, but that's their character."
Kingston, 3-5, will play Barrie, also 3-5, and Niagara, 4-4, in its other games this weekend, contests Coulter describes as "winnable."
"It will be tough," he said. "There are no easy games in this league. Every team is an all-star team from its region, but (those) two games are against teams with similar type records.
"Those other two teams are very good but I think, so are we."
Just the facts
What: Juel - it's contracted from 'junior elite' - league tournament for senior high-school age girls, played under sanction of the Ontario Basketball Association
Who: Six teams, Barrie, Brampton, GTA West, Kingston, Niagara and Ottawa, will gather at Queen's University to play three games each.
When: Play begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and runs through 10 p.m., resuming Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
Kingston Impact: Will play the Barrie Royals at 9:30 Saturday, the Brampton Warriors at 4:30 p.m. and Niagara at 1:30 p.m . Sunday.
(editor's note: All games Sunday have been pushed back 30 minutes from their originally scheduled time; the above times are correct).
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