By CLAUDE SCILLEY
Basketball season seems to start early at some schools. When fall sports extend themselves into deep playoff runs, sometimes coaches of the winter sports find themselves playing games a little sooner than they’d prefer.
Take the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers, for instance. At a school where the perennially successful volleyball team once again played until the OFSAA championship tournament during the final weekend of November, there’s barely a week before the start of the basketball schedule. That’s hardly enough time for those who play on both teams to decompress from one, never mind prepare for the other.
It showed Thursday, as the Panthers opened their Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior boys basketball schedule with a 55-28 win over the La Salle Black Knights.
“At times we played really well; at other times we turned the ball over way too much,” Regi coach Ed Kenney said, “but we’ve had four, maybe five practices. Rom (La Salle coach Rom Severino) was away at OFSAA. I think we’re probably in the same position.
“The kids make mistakes on four or five practices. Who do you look at?”
No one, of course. You chalk up such play, sometimes pretty, sometimes erratic, to the time of year, and if you coach at Regi, you come to assume things will get better when the volleyball players get a little basketball under their belts.
“It’s hard to push the kids,” Kenney said. “We want to get the hard grind work in because that’s the only way habits get built, but, honestly, you’re looking at them and they’re kind of sallow faced, tired. You have to (be patient).”
Playing at La Salle, the Knights scored first, Regi took an 8-2 lead and then the home team came back to tie the game just before the end of the first quarter. The game was tied 13-13 early in the second quarter when the Panthers went on a 15-0 run that led to a 28-16 halftime lead.
Trailing by as much as 17 points in the third quarter, La Salle cut the deficit to 10, 38-28, going into the final period and, but for some awful three-point shooting and 3-for-9 foul shooting—including 0-for-2 on the front end of bonus situations—the Knights might have made more of a game of it. A disastrous fourth quarter, however, when Regi pitched a 17-0 shutout, ultimately would have made it moot.
Regi got a splendid game from its reserves, who accounted for 24 of the Panthers’ 55 points. All 12 players got in the game, and nine of them scored. Eli DeLuzio scored 11 of his 12 points in the second half, leading the bench brigade.
The thing that most pleased Kenney, however, was his team’s effort to rebound.
“We’re not very tall,” he said, “but we’re really trying to buy into the idea of having five guys fight for the ones we can get at. If we can even it out and if we can manage, rebounding-wise, then we’ll try to make it up with our athleticism and our speed.”
Dylan Medeiros led Regi with 14 points, 10 of them in the first half. La Salle got 13 points from Cody Webb, including 11 of his team’s 16 first-half points.
Elsewhere Tuesday, the Frontenac Falcons won their second game in a row, defeating Queen Elizabeth 71-40 in the Raiders’ season-opening game; the Kingston Blues, fresh from their win at the Queen’s Invitational tournament on the weekend, also improved to 2-0 as they pinned a 59-29 home-court defeat on the Bayridge Blazers; the Napanee Golden Hawks dumped the Granite Ridge Gryphons 41-19, and the Holy Cross Crusaders edged the Sydenham Golden Eagles 46-42.
Playing at Sydenham, the Crusaders were led by Sam Pierson’s 24-point performance. Eric Lusk scored 22 points for the home team.