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La Salle, KC remain undefeated in senior boys basketball play
Posted: December 18th, 2013 @ 12:15am
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
Two of the three senior high school basketball teams who began the day undefeated stayed that way Tuesday. For one of them, that eventuality became clear fairly early; for the other it was much less so.
The La Salle Black Knights scored 18 points in the first quarter and they went on to win their fifth game in a row, 67-46 over the previously unbeaten Frontenac Falcons. At the Queen's University Athletics and Recreation Centre, the Kingston Blues first watched a 12-point lead disappear, then rallied from six points down in the fourth quarter to win their fifth in a row, 54-50 over the Bayridge Blazers.
At Frontenac, La Salle's 18-point first-quarter outburst was made more remarkable by the fact that it came in the final four and a half minutes of the period, as neither team scored until more than three minutes had been played in the game.
"I thought both teams looked tight," said La Salle coach Karen Graham, who nonetheless chose patience over tinkering to try and give her team a boost.
"I always think you need to let the players loosen up a bit," she said. "When you try to adjust, I just don't think it works. It's a matter of keeping them loose and letting them play."
Indeed, the Knights responded to the vote of confidence. Before the period ended Bruce Burns hit a three-point basket, Braeden Elliott came off the bench to hit another and when Nick Ackley hit a pair from beyond the arc early in the second quarter, the La Salle lead suddenly was 16 points.
"La Salle can really shoot it," Falcons coach Suche James said. "They could be the best shooting team this side of Toronto, as far as a group of kids that can all shoot the ball. There is nobody that we've run into that's better than that group. They are really that good.
"It's tough for us to cover everything, and they did some very good things."
Defending La Salle's big lineup wasn't made any easier by the fact that Frontenac's starting centre, Dylan Patterson, was on the bench, suspended for a game by James.
"It was a team thing that we had to deal with," James said. "We had to take care of our team chemistry and team values - and we dealt with it and that's going to move these kids forward more than beating La Salle."
Jesse Graham led the Knights with 16 points while Burns finished with 15, including three three-point baskets. Nine different players scored for La Salle.
Carter Matheson, Frontenac's top offensive threat who was also charged with defending La Salle's big men, nonetheless led all scorers with 19 points, 12 of them in the first half. No other Falcon scored more than seven.
* * *
At Queen's, it appeared KC was about to run away from Bayridge when a 7-0 run through the early part of the second quarter gave the Blues a 22-10 lead. Bayridge cut that gap to six points by halftime, however, and the Blazers tied the game late in the third quarter at 36-36. There were then six lead changes from that point to three-quarters time and the Blazers scored the first seven points of a strange fourth quarter to take a 50-44 lead.
KC didn't score in the first five minutes of the period but then Bayridge didn't score in the last three, as the Blues notched the final 10 points of the game.
KC took a 51-50 lead on a basket by Sayre Powers with 65 seconds to play. The teams traded front-court turnovers and Bayridge was eventually forced to foul. Wes Laird hit a free throw with 15.4 seconds left to bump the lead to two points. Then, after a timeout with 4.8 seconds left, the Bayridge in-bounds pass was intercepted by KC's Thomas Ronson, who clinched the victory by making both free throws after he was fouled.
Blues coach Sam Miller lamented the streaky nature of his team's performance.
"Down the stretch, we executed when it mattered the most but, boy, I wish we could do it for 32 minutes," Miller said, chalking the inconsistency to "the nature of teenage boys."
"When things go well, they stop doing them. I don't know why. They start feeling good about themselves and stop playing team basketball. That's what we stopped doing."
Bayridge coach Geoff Stewart, missing five players due to illness and assorted other reasons, watched an opponent get the best of his team in the fourth quarter for the second game in a row. Last week the Blazers blew a 17-point lead with seven minutes to play and similarly couldn't nurse a subsequent five-point lead through the final 99 seconds at Regi.
This time, 3:12 remained on the clock when the Blazers, losers of three in a row after a 2-0 start, took their biggest lead of the game, six points, when Austin Macklem hit a field goal and then two free throws.
"We had some inconsistent play at both ends of the floor," Stewart said. "We gave them a lot of layups. Our defensive play is not where it needs to be to compete in this league.
"They're a good scoring offence and it makes defending them hard but we can't repeatedly have breakdowns in our man-to-man defence like we had today and have an expectation that the offence is going to pull us out of the fire. In junior these guys could do that. In junior you can get away with more because the speed is not as great and the skill is not as great."
Stewart said it's not a matter of inexperience.
"We've got kids who play rep basketball. We've got kids who play house league basketball," he said. "Not having last year hurt us because it's a defensive philosophy that probably needs close to a full year to instill, to get guys to change the way we defend, (but) we've got experienced kids. We're still trying to figure out how to come together as a team."
Bayridge was in foul trouble almost from the start of the game and KC made the Blazers pay by hitting its first nine free throws and 17 of 21 altogether. Wes Laird, 6-for-7 from the foul line, was the Blues' top scorer with 14 points. Powers finished with 13.
Macklem scored 17 points for Bayridge, while Jordan Fehr and Derek Platt scored nine points apiece.
Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association play resumes Wednesday with a pair of games. Frontenac, 2-1, will host the winless Queen Elizabeth Raiders while the Loyalist Lancers, 2-2, will visit the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers, winners of two in a row after dropping their season opener at La Salle.
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