Speedy Falcons to fulfill tall order
Basketball: Foothills to host Notre Dame Pride Dec. 20
Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017 10:13 am
Athletic success has meant a slow start for the Foothills Falcons boys basketball team.
But the start is the only thing slow about them.
“It was difficult with three guys on our football team going to provincials and three guys from volleyball going to provincials on that team,” said Falcons head coach Amron Gwilliam. “We really only had three practices before our first tournament.
“I loved the way our guys worked hard, but in terms of schemes and our execution, we will have to get better at that.”
The Falcons finished sixth out of 16 teams in the elite D4 tournament in early December. On Saturday, they won the consolation final at the Cardston Cougar Classic, beating the Raymond Comets in the final.
Foothills will be a work in progress as the build for zones in March after losing standouts Tyler Ziehl, Peter Baker and Adam Pahl, who is now toiling for the UNBC Timberwolves, to graduation.
“All three were strong players for us so this year and we are looking for new players to take over those roles,” Gwilliam said. “Adam was obviously a talented player but he wasn’t the only guy on the team.
“As we distribute that (what was lost) among the 12 guys on the team, it’s not as big as a hole… Every year, we lose guys to graduation.”
The Falcons also lost some height. Their tallest-player this season is 6-foot-3 David Kent-Canalejo.
However, the Falcons are born to run.
“We have a couple of guys at the six-three mark, which makes us a small team at 4A,” Gwilliam said. “We have to play fast and defensively we have to make sure we do a better job of help-side rotations. We have to make sure we are playing together as a team.”
As for rebounding, it will all be positional defence and boxing out.
“Everyone is going to have to do it,” Gwilliam said. “David is coming back and he rebounds well. Payton Burbank has rebounded well. Hunter Boriskewich gives us a little bit of length and he’s done well.
“Even our guards, Josh Derochie, Jaxen Perrett, Josh Paul have rebounded well… We aren’t going to have one guy with 20 rebounds, but maybe four with five.”
Derochie is at point for the Falcons but he’s not the only one who can drive the whippet-fast offence.
“Josh is a great guard but right now I am happy with anybody bringing the ball up,” Gwilliam said. “Tyson Pitcher has brought the ball up, Jaxen brought the ball up.
“It’s more about who gets the rebound, and who gets the right spot on the floor. Any of the 12 can bring the ball up.”
Derochie admitted the Falcons aren’t tall-birds, but that won’t stop them.
“All we have to do is box out and be aggressive if we want to get boards,” he said. “We have been kind of able to do that, but it is a work in progress.”
However, he is optimistic.
“I think we should be pretty good — we are super-fast and it is super fun to play with,” Derochie said. “Everyone works together, we’re on the same page and we all love to run.”
The Falcons proved they are coming into their own by downing the Raymond Comets in the consolation final on Saturday.
“We came out really well and were up 28-9 after the first quarter — a lot of energy and intensity,” Gwilliam said. “But at halftime we were only up by two.”
The Falcons got a bit of a talking to at half and came out firing in the third quarter, leading by as much as 30.
Gwilliam was able to liberally go to his bench as the Falcons’ won by 20.
The Falcons will play their first home game on Dec. 20 when they take on the Notre Dame Pride. They will head to north Okotoks for a pre-Christmas date with the Holy Trinity Academy Knights on Dec. 21 at HTA.
Girls make finals
They take their basketball seriously in southern Alberta, and the Foothills girls were serious contenders in the Cardston Classic.
The Falcons took home the silver medal when they lost to the Magrath Zenith 61-59 in the final.
“We had a great tournament,” Falcons coach Vince Hunter said. “Against Magrath, we had a terrible first half, but our kids just grinded it out and kept their nose to the floor.”
The Falcons had the lead in the first few minutes but they got behind as much as 20 in the second half.
“We called a timeout and said: ‘right now, we are just playing for the person beside us. There was a real difference in their mentality and they worked incredibly hard for one another.”
The Falcons opened the tourney by downing the LCI Rams 79-74. They then downed the Raymond Comets 58-53 in the semifinal.
Falcon forward Alli Taylor was named a tournament all-star.
The Falcons will host the four-team Falcons Classic tournament this weekend. The teams are Foothills, Chinook from Lethbridge, Lloydminster and Chestermere.