We’re finally here. It’s game day. Up first…Ontario.
Friday (yesterday) was all about a single purpose. Win our game against Ontario. Considering the Ontario U17 men’s team has not lost a game at Nationals in three years and NB has never beaten Ontario, this could easily be dismissed as wishful thinking on our part. But we had a huge advantage that most NB teams haven’t had in the past….we truly believed we were going to win.
This year’s BNB U17 team has five players from last year’s team that finished fourth. Those five guys want to show that last year was not a fluke and are 100% committed to being the best defensive team again this year.
Once the game started it didn’t take long us to validate our confident mindset. We were able to hold Ontario to 29% shooting for the first quarter plus we won the rebound and turnover battles. And we were just getting started. In the second quarter we shot 69% (11 for 16), were able to turn over Ontario over nine times while holding them to 39% shooting and extended our lead to 51-29 at half time.
As expected our hot shooting cooled off in the second half but we continued to play at a high level defensively to build our lead to as much as 32 points. Unfortunately with about five minutes left to play in the game and up 29 points we uncharacteristically lost our mental focus when Ontario applied a full court trapping zone defensive. The result was several costly turnovers leading to quick uncontested layouts. Fortunately we had built a big enough lead in the first 35 minutes that we were able to limp to the the finish line with a very rewarding 10 point win.
Stanley Mayambo (17 pts), Keegan Gray (15 pts) and Ethan O’Neil (11pts) led us in scoring but we got great contributions several players including Gbemi Oguntona coming off the bench to add 9 pts, 7 rebs and 5 blocks.
Up next is Manitoba who defeated Quebec 70-68 on a last second basket. They are a well coached team and have a couple of big men that control the boards and are effective scorers in the paint. Given our struggles with Ontario’s zone defense and full court pressure in the fourth quarter we suspect we may see a full diet of that on Saturday. Needless to say, that will definitely be “discussed” at practice tomorrow morning!