By CLAUDE SCILLEY
Three quarters into their basketball game Thursday, the Kingston Blues were in desperate need of a catalyst, some sort of spark to snap them out of the doldrums that had them trailing with just one period to go.
They found it, right under their nose.
It was on their bench all along.
Riding the spirited play of a handful of reserves, the Blues, authors of just 28 points in the first 24 minutes of the game, scored 25 in the final quarter to defeat the visiting Sydenham Golden Eagles 53-36 in a Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior boys contest at KC.
In the decisive fourth quarter, there were consecutive three-point baskets from Tshepo Watunga and Kai Ferrall, both of whom began the game on the sideline, that took the lead from nine to 15 points.
For a team that scored just eight points in the entire third quarter, Calvin Tenenhouse came off the bench to score 10 by himself in the fourth.
“That’s huge,” Blues coach Dave Nichols said. “We did get good play off the bench.”
Indeed, of the 25 fourth-quarter points the Blues scored, only five came from players who started the game.
Sydenham, playing its third league game in eight days, led for most of the first half, though the Eagles trailed 20-17 at the break. Sydenham tied the game early in the third quarter, then the teams went through a stretch where KC would go ahead by two points, only to have the visitors tie the score, on four different occasions.
A 5-0 run to end the period sent the teams into the fourth quarter with Sydenham leading 31-28. The game was tied 32-32 when KC embarked on a 15-0 run to take command of the game.
The win left the undefeated Blues, 3-0, with a share of first place.
“They outplayed us for three quarters,” Nichols said. “They out-basketballed us, they out-hustled us … they out-everythinged us. We weren’t defending. We couldn’t stop them. They bullied us for three quarters. They did what they wanted and they dictated the pace.
“When I shook their hands (at the end of the game), I almost felt bad, because they played their butts off.”
Sydenham has a nice team, Nichols continued, but there was no way a team with as many returning players as the Blues should have been down going to the final period, playing at home against a team as young as the Eagles.
“It took being down going into the fourth quarter for a sense of urgency to kick in,” he said, saying the impetus for the sudden turnaround came from the players themselves.
“I didn’t say anything,” Nichols said. “(Fellow coach) Pat (Powers) didn’t say anything. It’s not like we called timeout and told them what to do. They know what to do.
“(Playing like) this is going to come back and bite us in the butt one of these times.”
With nine different players scoring, Tenenhouse led KC with 11 points. Sayre Powers had nine, and Farrell also had nine, all of them coming from three three-point baskets. Watunga finished the game with eight points, including a pair of threes.
Eric Lusk, with 13 points, and Alex Forget, with nine, were the top scorers for Sydenham, which was plagued with some sketchy—6-for-16—foul shooting.
The Bayridge Blazers, led by the 18-point performance of Matt Brash, gained their first win of the year, 52-15 over the Granite Ridge Gryphons in Sharbot Lake; the Frontenac Falcons kept pace with KC, notching their third-straight win, 51-32 over the Black Knights at La Salle, and the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers improved to 2-0 with a 58-41 win over the Napanee Golden Hawks.
Playing in Napanee, the Panthers survived a slow start and settled in midway through the second quarter. A last-second three-point basket by Nick Savoie sent Regi into halftime with a 31-22 lead. Applying pressure to start the second half, the visitors grew the lead to 18 points in the third quarter and it was never threatened after that.
Jacob Gosselin pulled down seven rebounds for Regi.