Vanier Catholic Secondary Crusaders head coach Sean McCarron was absent from Wednesday’s boys’ game because his wife was having a baby. Although the memory of welcoming his child into the world will surely last forever, he did miss his team’s comeback victory over the FH Collins Warriors, winning 91-63 in Super Hoops senior high school basketball play.
The loss for the Warriors was their second in a row, having lost 62-59 to the Porter Creek Secondary Rams the previous night, which gave them a 0-2 record to start the season.
It was a different story for the Warriors girls, undefeated to start the season, beating the Rams 51-34 on Tuesday and the Crusaders 75-35 Wednesday.
“This year we have a full team, it’s not just the starters who are really good,” said Crusaders co-captain Logan Gray. “We have a deep bench and are able to play everyone. Some of us didn’t play as well tonight, but other players stepped up and it was really good to see.”
Wednesday’s boys’ game was a real back-and-forth battle, with both teams having hot steaks.
After ending the first quarter down 17-10, the Crusaders tied the game 31-31 with Gray pushing back a missed shot from the paint and then sinking a jumper from the high post. A basket from Arthur Mauro on a fast break put the Crusaders up 35-31 just before half.
Falling behind 45-33 in the third, the Warriors managed to move to within a point on a three-pointer from Riley Simpson-Fowler at 52-51, but ended the quarter behind 63-56.
Having lost a handful of players to graduation in the spring, Warriors head coach Jeff Cressman considers this season to be a rebuilding year.
“Last year and the year before we were the champs, but we lost five or six guys from that team,” said Cressman. “So there’s only two guys on our team that are in Grade 12, the rest are in Grade 11.
“But by the end of the year I think these games are going to be pretty close.”
Leading the charge for the Crusaders was Gavin Clarke with 18 points, followed Ryan Sutherland with 17, including three three-pointers, and Gray with 16.
For the Warriors, it was Simpson-Fowler with a game-high 23, with four three-point baskets, followed by Dylan Salvisberg with 12 and Wilfred Johnson with 11.
In their game against the Rams, the Warriors moved to within one point in the final minute at 60-59 on a basket from Jaquin McWatters, but a final field goal from Ram Riley Smith put the game out of reach.
“I’d say Porter Creek and us are pretty evenly matched,” said Cressman. “So it should be an interesting season to see who comes out as the winner in the end.”
Warriors all over rebounds
Controlling the boards – getting the majority of rebounds at both ends – is key to successful basketball. However, the Warriors didn’t control the boards against the Crusaders, they dominated them.
In their 75-35 thumping of the Crusaders, the Warriors were getting three or four shots regularly with possessions, while the Crusaders were lucky to get second shots.
Surprisingly, with so many multi-talented players on the team, the Warriors have had little practice to start the season.
“We haven’t had a chance to work on anything yet,” said Warriors head coach Ann Jirousek. “Our skiers went away, one of our starters isn’t here, (Angela Burke) – she went away to university hockey tryouts – and I’ve had players away for band and players away for The Nutcracker and players away injured.
“So we haven’t had a whole team yet, and we haven’t had a chance to work on anything really.”
The Warriors jumped out to a 6-0 in the first quarter, holding it to the end, going into the second up 18-12. Keeping the Crusaders to four points in the second, the Warriors ended the first half up 41-18, with Nesha Wright getting two of her own rebounds before scoring on her third attempt.
“The Early Bird (Tournament) was a good start – this was kind of rough,” said Crusader Megan Schmidt. “Our passing could have been better. It was not my favourite game.
“It was a rough game, but it won’t get us down. We’ll come back harder next time.”
Scoring close to half her team’s points, Warrior Dahria Beatty put 34 points worth through the mesh. Teammates Wright and Kendra Murray put in 18 and eight respectively.
For the Crusaders, Sheena Greenlaw led the way with 16 while Brooke Neilsen had five and Schmidt and Emily Ratcliff each had four.
The Warriors won their season open against the Rams, finishing the game with just “three-and-a-half” players on the court.
“We had one with an ankle injury, another with an ankle injury, so we made her just stand back on defence – she never came back on offence,” said Jirousek. “We had two non-starters to finish the game, and one of them didn’t even know how to play basketball – we had to beg her to come and play.”
Even while understaffed on the court in the final quarter, Beatty still scored her team’s final 10 points in a 33-point night against the Rams.
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