Pressing Falcons squeeze out victory
Basketball: Foothills’ defence key to win over HTA
Friday, Dec 22, 2017 03:28 pm
The Foothills Falcons were pressing in the opening half of a friendly rivalry game.
So they did what they do best — press.
“When we press well and play good defence that is where our offence comes from,” said Falcon Teah Simard after their 81-61 victory over the Holy Trinity Academy Knights Dec. 21 at HTA. “Most of our baskets are on our transition, going from defence to offence.”
The Falcons needed a transition after being down after 20 minutes.
The Knights took a 34-32 lead into the half-time break when HTA’s Emily Ostafichuk grabbed a loose ball under the basket and went up for a layup with 10 seconds left in the half.
It was the last time HTA would have the lead.
The Falcon defence permitted one lone Knights’ field goal in the third quarter as Foothills jumped out to a 54-44 lead after the third quarter.
It might have been a not-so pre-Christmas cheer pep talk that got the Falcons going.
“Our turnaround was he (Falcons coach Vince Hunter) ripped a strip off of us as at halftime and we responded really well — we needed it,” said Simard. “When we hustle, it evolves to our offence and we are scoring more.”
While “ripping a strip off” may be a tad harsh, Hunter admitted something had to change.
“Work ethic — the only difference in that game was HTA was outworking us,” Hunter said. “They wanted it and you could see it in their eyes and their energy.
“That’s what I told the kids: ‘I am looking at two teams and one wants to compete and the other one wants to go through the motions.’
“I was very worried. HTA’s defence was filling the holes quick and made it hard for us to move.”
The Falcons went to the press — something Hunter didn’t want to do because his aim was to work on a different defence on the evening.
“We recognized it wasn’t going well, so we moved into our press,” Hunter said. “That gave us a lot of energy.”
It created plenty of steals.
If the Grinch would have had as much success with thefts as Foothills did in the third quarter, all Whovillians would ever get for the holiday is a chance to sing.
Foothills went ahead by 20 midway through the fourth quarter with an add-on by post Alli Taylor to make it 74-54.
Knights forward Jordan Bonertz admitted they had trouble with the press.
‘We haven’t practiced enough to break it,” Bonertz said. “Their defence is unreal. So every practice, we will have the mindset: ‘This is us against the Comp’ so we can prepare for March… I have faith. That is our goal.”
While she found losing worse than finding coal in a stocking, Bonertz was pleased with the Knights’ effort.
“I was really impressed because two of our starters, Lauren Sinclair and Breanne Trotter, were injured — the people who needed to step up really stepped up I was super proud,” she said “Tiana Miller, Gracie McNichol, they really shone out there.”
The tough Sinclair gave the Knights some valuable minutes despite being hobbled. They also got a strong game from rookie Skylar Bonertz at point guard. She and older sister Jordan were the Knights leading scorers with 14 points each.
The Falcons leading scorer was guard Erica Holden who finished with 21, which included three three-pointers.
“I always feel like I could shoot a little bit more — I have more confidence in my three-point shot,” she said.
Taylor finished with 17 points, while Brooklynn Baker had 16 to go along with her tenacious defence.
The Falcons are off for the Christmas holidays. Their next tournament is Jan. 12 in Lethbridge.
A group of friends wearing different jerseys resulted in funds being raised to battle cancer.
The Knights-Falcons game raised $992 for cancer research at the game.
Hunter said while both teams are competitive on the court, its also a game of community and friendship.
Bonertz echoed Hunter.
Many of the Foothills and Knights players have played club ball together.
“We are like family — we all hang out after school it doesn’t matter if it’s the Comp or the HTA, we are all best friends,” she said.