Vanier Catholic Secondary was the scene of two very different games on Wednesday, but the results were the same.
Challenging the FH Collins Secondary Warriors in Grade 9/10 high school basketball play, the home teams came out on top, with the Vanier Crusader girls winning 33-29 and the Vanier boys winning 45-22.
“Right from the start there was an intense battle and no one would give up an inch,” said Crusader girls head coach Nicole Morgan. “We’d come at them, they’d come at us; we’d press them, they’d press us.
“Most of our timeouts I was saying, ‘It’s heart. In these type of games it’s whoever has the most heart that comes out on top eventually.’
“It never really swayed one way or the other, so I think both teams have a lot of character.”
“It is the closest game we’ve had so far against Vanier,” said Warrior girls co-head coach Sarah Crane. “It was a great game – both sides played really hard. They both played with similar styles; they both like to run, they like to try and get steals and they always play hard defence. It was fun to watch.”
Neck and neck for the first three quarters, the Crusaders ended the third taking a 23-22 lead with a shot from Robyn Fortune from the top of the key. Fortune went on to score just over half of her team’s points in the game, putting 16 onto the board.
“In a game like tonight, I really couldn’t take her out,” said Morgan. “Her composure and leadership in games like this, where there is never any lull or shifts in momentum, it’s hard to take those key players out.
“I took her out just briefly in the third quarter for about a minute because I knew we had to come back with a full-court press. I need someone with that composure to keep everyone calm.”
The Warriors took their final lead of the game in the opening minute of the fourth on a basket from Hanna Val. However, a series of free-throws from Fortune and Sabrina Clarke put the Crusader up 27-24. Fortune then gave her team the largest lead of the game, storming the key for two and putting the Crusaders up 29-24.
Warrior Emily Wilson gobbled up a rebound, gave a little turn-and-shoot move to put her team back within two, but a jump shot from Shae-Lynn Boyko gave the Crusaders a four-point lead.
The Warriors remain winless in the regular season with a 0-3 record, but the team is more concerned with development than getting wins, said Crane.
“We’re improving a lot – we have a lot of players who are still learning,” said Crane. “We’re not too focus on the scoring or the win-loss record because we’re still really focused on learning skills.”
Leading the Warriors in points was Markie Bailie with 10 points, followed by Val with five and Wilson with four.
“Markie was the youngest member of the Canada Summer Games team, so she really improved a lot this summer,” said Crane. “She’s coming in with a lot of experience.
“We had a lot of great play from our guards, Odette Rivard, Julianna Campbell, Catelyn Philipsen and Hanna Val. Lots of hustling. They’re not afraid to go on the floor.”
With no subs to rely on, compared to the Crusaders’ seven, the Warriors boys team knew that getting an early lead, before their legs grew tired, was their best chance at success.
However, it didn’t work out that way.
The Warriors had a slow start to the game, failing to get a single field goal in the first quarter, ending it down 10-2 with two successful free throws from Warrior Steven Qiu.
In the second, the Warriors proved they were still in the game with a nine-point run to take the lead at 11-10 on a lay-up from Owen Hedstrom-Langford.
“My boys played hard on defence and kept hustling in the second quarter there and made some baskets,” said Warriors head coach Tyler Bradford. “I thought they played hard, and with five guys, that’s all I can ask for.
“We have a long way to go in building in terms of offence, but defensively I think we’re getting there.”
The Crusaders responding to the Warriors’ points-spree with one of their own, putting up nine straight points, four of which came from free throws.
“We didn’t start off playing as aggressively as we could have, but once we started playing a bit more pressured defence (in the third) all of a sudden the game swung in our favour,” said Crusaders head coach Dave Thomson. “In the third quarter we started to pick it up a bit.”
Things took a turn for the worse for the Warriors in the third, with two players fouling out, giving the Crusaders the equivalent of a power play with a two-man advantage.
“We were down to three players, so Dave Thomson from Vanier, being the great coach that he is and great sportsman, said it would be OK for them to play the rest of the game and not worry about the fouls,” said Bradford.
Leading the way for the Crusaders was Albert Spycher with 12 points, followed by Joshua Hanson with nine and Elias Park and Michael Hare each with eight.
For the Warriors, it was Hedstrom-Langford with 11 points and Graham Mainer-Pearson with five.
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