Seniors and juniors yo-yo to win and loss in Kawartha hoops action
By Terrance Gavan
Life on the hardwood. Unpredictable and ambiguous.
Full contact ballet. Elegant flights marred mid-orbit by sudden unwholesome collisions.
The junior and senior Hal High Hawks’ hoopsters split a twin bill of doubleheaders in Kawartha Basketball League action during the past week.
Last Thursday (Jan 13) Roland Zilla’s senior squad put a 44-36 lickin’ on visiting Lindsay Collegiate, utilizing a mesmerizing and tidy Tennessee Quicksand trapping zone press. It was, in short, pas de deux in scattered redux, and overall a dominating performance. The senior squad followed that up with twin wins in a mini tourney at Fenelon Falls last Friday. The Hawks edged Fenelon 50-46 and trounced Lindsay Collegiate 65-39.
However, last Tuesday afternoon against a thin-benched and, ahem, much smaller St. Thomas Aquinas squad, all that good karma just dissolved in a miasma of manic panic as the Hawks dropped a 40-36 decision to the tinier Titans.
Meanwhile, Paul Longo’s junior Hawks split their twin bill against the same two teams. Hawks lost 44-30 to LCVI last Thursday, but rebounded, both figuratively and literally, to smack the lowly St. Thomas Titans 48-23.
The junior Hawks played well in the face of overwhelming odds against triple-A LCVI, who, once the game was in hand, went right to the bench and played some second tier players for the bulk of the second half.
Longo repaid that favor on Tuesday against St. Thomas allowing his second and third string players to grab a large amount of playing time for the bulk of the game, which was clearly never in doubt.
Longo said that Tuesday’s contest went pretty much as planned. “We beat them by the same score as last time,” said Longo. “We played everyone and it’s nice to have a game like that. I was impressed and I think our starters are starting to play together.”
The coach said he’s particularly impressed by the way his twin tower of power Zach Cox and Nathan (Nate) Feir are beginning to gel. Longo’s first line are attempting to input a free-flowing weak side pick and slide rotation and had a great opportunity to entrench that set while playing the Titans.
Both Hawks’ hoops squads play Fenelon Falls at the Hawks Nest today (Thursday, Jan 20) and Longo is hoping that the solid win will weave its magic against their triple-A nemesis Falcons.
The twin-Tanners, Ballantyne and Hamilton, scored six apiece in the contest on Tuesday. Zach Cox led all scorers with10 and Kieran Poropat added eight. Ballantyne and Louis Ferracuti took turns running that pick and slide baseline attack.
It was a long, long day in the paint for the senior Hawks, who were clearly the better team, but allowed the short benched, but butt-hustling and scrappy Titans to grab an early first half lead and carry that momentum into a hit-and-run scramble in the second half.
Bobby Grant, the Titans sole source of solace, absolutely dominated play on both ends. Grant finished the game with 22 points, 15 of those from the charity stripe. On the distaff side Luke Watson got six, Jesse Lefebvre scored 10 and Damon Flatman had a great overall game scoring eight and staying savvy down the stretch.
Now that’s a lot of trips to the foul line for one Bobbt Grant. And to be fair, the officials did act as interlopers in what should have been a free-flowing contest. And the herky-jerky nature of the game finally bled over from the hardwood to the bench.
Near the end of the third quarter hawks assistant Dave Waito did a Gene Hackman – Hoosiers y’all – and was tagged with a pair of technical fouls. That was followed by a bench technical and led to six free throws and the ball at a time when the Hawks were showing telltale signs of life.
The Titans only managed to pop two of the six free throws and they scored on the possession, but as Zilla said after the game, this loss was never about the officiating, as wonky as it was.
Zilla was concise and terse in his post-game summary. “We had too much negativity on the bench, guys coming off the floor talkin’,” said Zilla. “It puts us into third spot in the standings and it’s a distinct disappointment.”
And that’s putting it mildly. Consider that the Hawks were down 12 with just over a minute remaining in the game and they actually had it to 4 with the ball with 30 seconds remaining in the game. Jesse Lefebvre and Luke Watson were a clean four inches taller than anyone on the floor, but the Hawks, instead of utilizing that insider strength seemed content to play some shoot and chase. Which would have been a nice strategy if the Hawks could have finished in the paint. Let’s put it simply.
Don’t matter how tall you are. No box no rebound. Period.
Credit where credit is due, the Titans were demons, boxed well, and rotated their zone pressure with speed, alacrity and precision. The Hawks tore through the Titans by 18 in their first season encounter and Zilla was obviously disappointed.
“We’re going to move on, it’s that simple,” said Zilla. “Our guys took them lightly and this was a good lesson for us.”
For Zilla it’s a no-brainer. Less ballet and more roller derby.
“We don’t take anybody lightly, and we don’t act like prima donnas,” said Zilla.
And as Sean Connery said to Kevin Costner.
“Thus endeth the lesson.”