The First Basketball team hosted nationally-ranked National Prep Association participant Crestwood Prep yesterday afternoon in CISAA league action. The message before the game to the team was to rise up to the challenge, play with character, remain positive, and bring consistent intensity and execution on every possession.
To their credit, the Saints responded well to the challenge and did not back down throughout the majority of the game. They showed that when they play hard, smart, and together, they can hang with any elite team.
In the opening quarter, the Saints defended very well in the half court and limited Crestwood's chances at the basket. However, missed boxouts led to easy putbacks for Crestwood's tall post players and allowed them to build a lead.
Crestwood brought pressure, and when the Saints passed and cut with purpose they were able to move the ball through the pressure, swing to the weakside, and knock down open shots. Dara Goharchi and Noah Hulton both connected on multiple perimeter shots to bring the Saints back and put them in the lead midway through the first quarter. However, the constant pressure broke down the Saints at times, as they either dribbled into traps or left their feet to pass. This led to turnovers and allowed Crestwood to score on the fast break and gain the lead back.
Throughout the remainder of the game, the Saints raised their level of physicality and didn’t back down from Crestwood's attack. Wells Karabin, Yiannis Spetsakis, and Dylan Tabone were all over the glass, while Zakhar Karakulkin drove the paint fearlessly. Isaac Bradbury was calm under pressure and hit a beautiful runner after losing his man with a shot fake. Mario Vazquez, Bilal Mahmood, and Amar Patel, and Jacob Grant started to settle down against pressure and when they executed the offence the team got great looks at the basket.
Midway through the third quarter, the Saints had battled all the way back to within ten points. A great lesson that if you continue to stay positive and believe in your systems, you can hang with anyone on the court. The eventual pressure wore down the Saints and continued right until the final buzzer, and Crestwood continued to jack fastbreak three-pointers, and so the final score does not indicate the solid showing that the Saints gave on this day.
Lots to build on and look forward to as the Saints head to the Whitby/Oshawa Invitational this weekend!
Story by: Mr. Ludwig, Coach