Key shots crucial in Cougars win

Katie Brickman
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Vanier able to adapt to speed game, just come up short

Matt Morris of the Vanier Vikings jumps up and blocks a shot from Brendan Adrian from the Caronport Cougars during senior boys basketball action on Tuesday evening. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman

It was a shooting gallery at Vanier on Tuesday evening. Both the Caronport Cougars and the Vanier Vikings played a hard-fought, physical game that appeared it was going to come down to the last shot.

However, the Cougars picked up their defence and the Vikings came up flat in the clutch. Caronport won a fast-paced match 102-93 in senior boys basketball action.

“It was a shooting contest and some good shots and bad shots from both teams. It was very competitive,” said Vanier’s coach David Tardif. “(However) the boys know that they can do better than this.”

Both teams moved the ball well on offence, swinging it around the key before getting an open three-point shot or a drive to the hoop. Caronport lead in each quarter, but Vanier only trailed by seven points at the half-time break.

These two teams faced each other just 14 days ago and it was a much different games. Although Vanier still put a pressure defence on the Cougars, they were able to break the press this time with less panic.

“We handled their press a lot better. The last time we played them, we were in the mid-40s for turnovers, but we had fewer turnovers. We handled the ball a lot better and we didn’t panic on their press, which is what we did before,” said Cougars’ coach George Willatt. “That paid big dividends and that was one of the things I was emphasizing to them pre-game.”

Vanier kept the score close throughout the second half, pulling within three points early in the third quarter. There was even a couple minutes where Caronport went flat on offence, but the Vikings weren’t able to capitalize.

It wasn’t until early in the fourth quarter that the Vikings retook the lead in the game, but it wasn’t long lasting as Caronport came charging back. The Cougars got some crucial three-point shots from Zephaniah Moore and the Vikings had difficulties hitting shots close to the basket.

“We started to get passive in our zone in the fourth quarter and allowed them to drive baseline and penetrate in the middle,” said Willatt. “After that, we started to move our feet more and I encouraged them to have a bit more intensity.”

The Vikings are more of a defence-first team, so Tardif was happy that the team was able to adapt to the high tempo game that Caronport was running, but there was other areas the team didn’t adapt to that created problems in the end.

“It is good to see that they were able to adapt to the speed, but then we had to adapt to getting out to their outside shots. They got some three point shots after we pulled in a bit,” he said. “Some of those shots late we just couldn’t get in, but we just got too comfortable and they pulled away. They never gave up and we slowed down. They did an awesome job of hustling and they out-hustled us.”

The Vikings will have a bit of a break before playing their regular season finale on Feb. 26 against Peacock. The Cougars have two more games in their season before playoffs begin.

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