By CLAUDE SCILLEY
When a team is as shooting the basketball as well as the St. Lawrence Vikings were shooting it Saturday afternoon, the proceeds are plain to see. There’s nothing like a 33-point quarter to put a stamp on a game.
What isn’t quite as obvious is the effect on a team’s defence when a team successfully drops more than 61 per cent of its shots.
“You get a little more energy on defence,” Vikings coach Barry Smith said, after his team defeated the visiting Algonquin Thunder 93-74 in an Ontario Colleges Athletic Association contest in the St. Lawrence gym.
The winners’ electric shooting propelled St. Lawrence to its eighth win in 12 conference games this season. It was the Vikings’ third win in a row and their sixth, without defeat, at home. As remarkable as the 33-point third quarter was, however—breaking a 35-35 halftime tie—what people may not have noticed was how well St. Lawrence was playing defensively. During that same period, the Vikings allowed just nine points, as the Thunder managed just four field goals.
“Nobody likes playing defence,” Smith said. “They all say they do, but nobody likes playing defence, because nobody has ever gotten their name in the paper for playing defence.
“It takes someone special to play defence. A whole team has to be special to play good defence, and the only way to get that is when you get energy on offence. You get the energy on offence to play good defence.”
The victory moves St. Lawrence within half a game of second-place Algonquin, which fell to 9-4. The Vikings, burdened by a November stretch where they lost four of six games, are now 3-0 against the two teams ahead of them in the East division standings.
“I don’t think we’re 19 points better than Algonquin,” Smith said. “We went on a bit of a run and they got themselves in trouble. They had played at 8 o’clock last night. We’ve had to do that a bunch of times, so I don’t feel sorry for them, but it’s nice to have that (to our advantage) for a change.”
St. Lawrence fell behind 6-0 then rallied to take the lead twice before the first quarter ended with Algonquin leading 20-19. The Vikings took the lead right off the bat in the second quarter, and twice led by as many as eight points, before the period ended in a 35-35 tie.
Then came the blowout third quarter.
“We were hotter than can be,” Smith said. “We hit three threes in a row form Jaz (Bains) and it opened up the game. Everybody got very confident about themselves. We’ve got the capability of (shooting 61 per cent from the field), but we’ve also had some terrible shooting games.
“We’ve still got some learning to do and one game does not a season make.”
St. Lawrence got double-digit scoring from four players, led by Bains, who ended the game with 25 points, almost two more than his per-game average of 23.3, which was first in the division, second in Ontario and sixth in Canada to begin the day.
Taylor Reddick, 7-for-8 from the field, including 3-for-3 from the free-throw line, finished the game with 17 points, while Andrew Dawkins scored 15 and Brad Richards had 14.
Kristan Charette led Algonquin with 18 points, while Murphy Beya scored 12.
Sunday afternoon, the Vikings will host the Coyotes from La Cite in a 2 o’clock game. Division-leading La Cite, not that long ago the league doormat but now the sixth-ranked college team in Canada, comes to town with a 12-0 record.
“I think we can beat them,” said Smith, whose team dropped an 84-74 decision to the Coyotes when the teams met in Ottawa in early November.
The Vikings played that night with just six players. Two starters, Dawkins and Donald Gibson, were among the absentees.
“We were really thin,” Smith said. “I want to see how well we play against them with our starters.”