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Bayridge survives shaky fourth quarter to defeat Sydenham

December 6, 2013

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

In a third quarter in which they played sparkling defence, the Bayridge Blazers appeared to be putting their senior boys basketball game away early Thursday afternoon.

Then came a fourth quarter when a lot of that good stuff vanished, and the Sydenham Golden Eagles rallied from 16 points down to make a game of it.

Ultimately the Blazers pulled themselves together well enough to stem that tide, and collect a 65-59 home-court Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association victory, their second in as many games to open the young season.

“They are dangerous,” Bayridge coach Geoff Stewart said of an opponent that scored 22 points in the final period. “The part that we knew was going to be a challenge for us was size, because where we have a little bit of size, our size guys aren’t necessarily our biggest gas-tank guys.”

That became apparent in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, when two of the Sydenham big men, Kurt MacCommish and Ben Lusk, got a couple of baskets and a deficit that had been 16 points with two minutes to play in the third quarter was suddenly down to seven.

“That’s where it got a little interesting,” Stewart said.

Michael Powley then hit a pair of free throws and a three-pointer, back to back, to restore the Bayridge lead to 12 points but Sydenham wasn’t finished. The Golden Eagles scored eight of the next nine points and when Matt Bridgeland hit a three with 1:15 to play, the Bayridge lead was down to four.

The Blazers called timeout and they were able to collect themselves. They hit six straight free throws in the final 90 seconds to complete the win.

“We managed ourselves all right,” Stewart said. “Our best players played very good basketball when they needed to play their best basketball.”

That wasn’t necessarily happening in much of the fourth quarter, when it took more than three minutes for Bayridge to score a field goal. “We took five three-point shots on six possessions,” Stewart said. All five of them resulted in the ball going the other way.

“While we have guys who are very good three-point shooters, it was the wrong shot at that time in the game with the situation the way it was, but they’re kids,” Stewart said. “They make mistakes.

“We’re reaching the mistake-making phase of the season and we’re going to make a lot of them. Hopefully in the games when it really matters those mistakes don’t hurt us and in the games that don’t matter so much we learn from everything.”

Bayridge fell behind early, as Sydenham’s Thomas Withey scored a pair of baskets in the first 15 seconds of the game. The Blazers took the lead at 11-10 and from that point there were four lead changes and two ties through the early part of the second quarter until Bayridge scored eight straight points en route to a 29-23 halftime lead.

A 9-2 run to start the third quarter sent the home team on what looked like a sure path to victory.

“We decided to switch their ball screens and we switched really well for a stretch,” Stewart said. “From the middle of the first to the middle of the third we switched aggressively; we made the point guard go high. If you’re going to switch, you want the ball to go away from the basket at the switch.

“One of our least athletic kids probably did the best job. In the second quarter, he switches the point guard so aggressively I think the point guard actually ended up with both feet in the centre circle. He doesn’t want to run the offence from there. That’s perfect.

“When we started to fall apart a little bit I thought we switched a little less enthusiastically and the ball sort of stayed at the same level or even got closer to the basket off the switch. It’s easier to find the roller when you do that.”

For the second game in a row Bayridge had double-digit scoring from three different players. Austin Macklem had 16 points, including a 6-for-7 performance from the free-throw line. There was also a healthy contribution from the bench, as Jordan Fehr scored 14 points — 10 of them in the first half — and Powley finished with 12, including a pair of threes.

MacCommish led Sydenham with 17 points, eight of them in the fourth quarter, while Withey finished with 15, eight of them in the first quarter. Steve Kennedy scored 11 points for the Golden Eagles, who fell to 1-1.

In other games Thursday, the Holy Cross Crusaders evened their record at 1-1 with a 57-39 win over the Queen Elizabeth Raiders; the Frontenac Falcons opened their season with a 60-21 win in Sharbot Lake over the Granite Ridge Gryphons and the La Salle Black Knights posted their second straight home-court victory, 54-22 over the Loyalist Lancers.

Jesse Graham scored 13 points and Tanner Graham added 11 for the Knights. Loyalist, playing its first game of the year, got eight points from Mike Galna.

Play resumes Monday where KC, whose gym is undergoing renovations, will host QE at the Queen’s University upper gym.

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