Knights and Hawks prevail on the court
by Randy Pascal
The Toronto Raptors could stand to take a page out of the defensive handbook of the Lo-Ellen Park Intermediate Knights girls basketball
While the south-end crew scuffled a little offensively, their defensive effort was absolutely smothering as the Knights claimed the Rainbow Board Basketball
Championship on Wednesday with a 25-7 win over the Churchill Chargers.
Leading 15-5 at the half, the Lo-Ellen girls surrendered just a single basket to Hunter Briar in the second half, avenging their loss to the
same team in the 2017 Board final.
"I think this was our best defensive game of the year," stated center Charlotte Church, leading her team with ten points in the game. "We did not
have a very good offensive game. But on defense, if you don't give up, you should be able to win the game."
As to the specifics of their success at their end of the court, Church narrowed it down to one key component. "Communication is a big part of it," she
said. "We like to do man to man, but we always talk on defense."
"If you're help, you say that. The person guarding the ball has to know if their player gets by them that you are there to help, so they don't have to
foul someone to stop from getting by."
Mind you, even the tone is important when it comes to communicating effectively on the court. "Our coach reminded us to come into this game with a
positive mind, and I find that we were more vocal, more positive, encouraging each other a lot more," said Church.
At 5'6", the grade eight student will give up some height against some of her opponents in the paint, though she's not about to lose any sleep over it.
"I'm actually being put in post, at center, because as you can tell, our team is very small," explained Church.
"But our coaches tell me that even though I'm small, I play big, I play strong." Church would have some help in the gold medal encounter, as Elliott
Tissot chipped in with eight points, with remaining buckets coming courtesy of Kenzie Erwin (2 pts), Annika Best (2), Lilly Armstrong
(2) and Ali Bertrim (1).
Rounding out the roster for the Knights are Siobhan Noble-Poland, Aoife Mahaffy, Carling Kuhlberg, head coach Jennifer Bourget and assistant
coach Tony Church. Lainey Allen accounted for the first five points for Churchill, all in the opening half.
The second half of the basketball double-header at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School would provide substantially more drama, with the Lively Hawks
and MacLeod Mustangs deadlocked at 34-34 with under a minute to play.
Held off the scoresheet for the entire first half, Ethan Scott calmly stepped to the free throw line, sinking a pair of shots from the charity
stripe, and adding one additional point with 23 seconds to play as Lively outlasted MacLeod 37-34.
Scoring 14 points, the bulk of which came early in the game, Ryan Rubic helped ease the load off Scott for the Hawks at the outset of the contest. "Basketball is one of my
favourite sports, but I don't play it much," said Rubic.
"Because my hockey is at the same time, I just don't have the time." Featuring a lineup that included several of the lads who also captured the Rainbow
boys volleyball title back in December, Lively put together a game plan that paid huge dividends in the end.
"We were running a different offense and trying to draw fouls so that we could shoot," suggested Rubic. "We've been working in practices. Every recess we
have, we're down in the gym, practicing free throws."
Still, as most players will acknowledge, it's one thing to sink shot after shot when practicing with teammates in your home school gym. It's another
challenge altogether to do it in front of a packed foreign venue, with more than a hundred vocal fans on hand and the game on the line.
"I was pretty confident," said Rubic. "He's (Scott) very fluid with his shooting, he makes pretty much all of his shots." Joining Rubic and Scott in
the Lively scoring parade were Joss Van den Enden (8), Ryan Remington (4) and Brek Morrow.
Dax Mazzuchin carried much of the load for the Mustangs, leading all scorers with 21 points, while Sam McCue (9), Cameron Shanks
(2) and Nathan Gravel (2) also hit paydirt.
The balance of the boys championship roster includes Anthony Thom, Bradley Halonen, Cody Clark, Hayden Blanchard, Johnny Mealey, Mason Lachance,
Matthew Dewitt, Owen Willis, Ryan McLaughlin and Tommy Bradley.