One win down. Five to go.
The Central Cyclones have had a great high school basketball season, but if the senior boys want to achieve all of their goals there is no margin for error any more.
Tuesday the Cyclones easily cleared their first hurdle as they beat the Caronport Cougars 102-39 in the Moose Jaw high school league semifinal.
“The focus has been very good,” said Central coach Leigh Pethick. “The guys are buying into working hard for 40 minutes. We have to put a bunch of wins together here or our season is over.”
The Cyclones will battle either Vanier or Peacock in the league final Tuesday as they look for their third straight city title. Then will have four more wins to get — two at regionals and hopefully two more at Hoopla in Saskatoon — in their quest for a 4A boys provincial title.
The Cyclones defence and transition game cause the Cougars fits all night.
“We’ve been trying to get these guys playing more fast-break basketball and running the lanes wide and getting it up the court as quick as we can. We’re starting to progress and starting to do a better job of that,” said Pethick.
Myles McDougall led the Cyclones with 15 points, while Zach Schutte added 14, Dalton Wolfe had 13 and Jonathan Phillips finished with 12 points.
The Cyclones welcomed back Dax Whitehead who had missed five games with a knee injury.
Pethick was happy that they were able to limit the scoring from the Cougars talented back-court.
“Our plan was to deny Zeph (Moore) the ball as much as we could and get out make him drive and with (Jonny Toews) make it the same thing,” said Pethick. “We wanted to take away their three-point shots and help with everyone else. We did a pretty good job with that.
“I’m very happy with that.”
Moore finished with 13 points to lead the Cougars, while Toews had seven points. Orrin Harrison scored nine points for the Cougars.
The Cougars knew they were in tough coming into the game against the unbeaten Cyclones.
“I thought we gave it a full effort. I didn’t think the guys gave up at all,” said Cougars head coach George Willatt. “Effort aside we had way too many turnovers. We had 27 at half time — I don’t know what we ended up with in total — but that was costly. They converted on a lot of the turnovers. They really pushed the ball well.”
The Cougars will now shift their focus towards their 3A conference playoffs this weekend in Shaunavon. Four teams will advance to regionals from the six-team conference tournament.
“It’s a tough conference. Probably three of the top four teams in 3A are in our conference,” said Willatt. “So it’s kind of nice that four teams advance, but we’re going to have to work hard.”
The Cougars will open against the hosts from Shaunavon who were the top-seeded team in 3A for most of the season until a recent loss.