With a spot in the league final dangling in front of them, the Vanier Spirits came out with a bit more in their step. Unfortunately for the Caronport Cougars, their shooting has struggled down the stretch and possibly cost them a trip to the final.
“They came out ready to play. I thought our girls came out ready to play, but we missed shots at the beginning that they came down and made the same shots,” stated Caronport’s coach Leigh Wolverton. “Our shooting has not been great and we don’t have confidence in our shooting. That is a concern. They hit some nice shots in the first half to make the game interesting…they played well and earned that game.”
The Spirits led after each quarter and held on for the 62-53 victory in senior girls semifinal basketball action on Wednesday evening.
“It was a very good first half. We came out with a zone, which was different than what we used before,” said Vanier’s coach Bob Gottselig. “We seemed to control the boards a little bit better and momentum built and we fed off it.”
The game got close in the third quarter when the Cougars applied their press and Vanier only scored five points, but still held a one-point lead.
“It was a great first half. They applied their press and we had a hope that they would wear themselves down as they pressed in the third quarter,” said Gottselig. “Our hope was that they would run out of steam and I think that’s what happened.”
As the Spirits continued to run the floor and find a way to break the press, the Cougars still tried to claw back, but there just wasn’t enough time. Using the press tired out their starters and Wolverton had to get creative with his lines.
“I think, emotionally, the girls got affected by it and so we got behind in our thinking and they were able to capitalize on it. We had to work really hard to catch up. They put in a lot of effort, but I think fatigue affected our ability to finish it off,” said Wolverton. “That third quarter brought us back in, but it also expended a lot of our energy. I needed to do more subbing, but at the same time, we didn’t really have the ability to make it happen.”
The Cougars are now finished with league play and will now turn their focus to 3A conference this weekend. They hope to be able to figure some things out offensively before then to gain some more confidence.
“Conference is just in a couple of days, but our first game should be an easier game to gather ourselves together and go from there,” said Wolverton.
With the semifinal victory, Vanier booked their ticket to the league final and will face Peacock next week. The Toilers have gone undefeated all season and are seeded No. 1 in the province in the 4A classification.
“Peacock is a very good basketball team and we are very honoured to be in the city final against them. We are going to give to it our best shot,” said Gottselig. “They have a lot of weapons. Similar to what was successful for us is that they run the floor extremely well. They take turnovers and run the floor. So, we have to limit our turnovers and we have to run with them. They have a good ball team that can shoot from the outside and big players inside…they have the complete package.”