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Regi spots LC eight-point lead; roars back to win by 20

December 19, 2013

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

In the opening moments of their senior basketball game, the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers were playing like Santa on Christmas Eve, with a spare present on the sled and no idea who is supposed to get it.

Santa might give it to the first kid he came upon, and in the case of the Panthers Wednesday that would have been the Loyalist Lancers, who looked for awhile like they might get a gift wrapped in turnovers and open looks at the basket.

After spotting the visitors an 8-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game, however, Regi evidently remembered that, in what is expected to be a closely contested league, it really can’t afford to be giving too many gifts. The Panthers scored the next 16 points and they never trailed again on their way to a 68-48 Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association win.

“One of the realities of the winter season is it’s kind of hard to keep the same level of motivation,” Regi coach Ed Kenney said of his team’s slow start. “It’s not an excuse but 17-year-old boys like Christmas just like everybody else.”

Regi gained its third win in four starts largely on the strength of that spurt and a second quarter where it outscored Loyalist 15-5. The Lancers would not go away, though.

Trailing by 19 points early in the third quarter, LC got within seven points at 49-42 early in the fourth but the Panthers then scored nine of the next 10 points — four of them by converting a pair of Loyalist turnovers into baskets in rapid succession near the midway point of the period — to put the game away.

“LCVI shot the ball very well all game,” Kenney said, a nod to the Lancers’ eight three-point goals. “We said at halftime that we had to start defending them differently, because we didn’t really see them getting much inside, but they shot for such a high percentage we had to get out defensively.

“I thought we did that better in the second quarter and the third quarter. Maybe not so much in the fourth but by that time we sort of had things a little bit more in hand.”

No matter what the Lancers, 2-3, did elsewhere on the floor they had no answer for Regi’s Duncan Lambert, who ended the game with 31 points. He scored his team’s first six points, on a three-pointer and a three-point play, making the free throw after being fouled making a shot from underneath the basket.

His total included a 6-for-7 performance from the foul line. He scored 10 of his team’s 18 first-quarter points and nine in a 21-point fourth quarter.

“Duncan is a skilled guy and I’d say his skill this year has changed,” Kenney said. “Last year he would have settled for the outside shot but this year he’s more inclined to take what people give him. He’s more of an inside-outside player and he’s more thoughtful about it.

“Shooters, when things don’t go well, sometimes they sort of lose their focus. I think rather than lose it, Duncan’s more inclined to refocus (and he) has a good engine. When he’s focused, he’s focused.”

Kenney said that Lambert, now in Grade 12, at one point might have been one of those guys who put his head down if the shooting muse wasn’t with him.

“We just talked about getting into the gym (for some practice) over Christmas,” Kenney said. “Duncan’s one of those guys, we don’t have to address that with him. He’ll find a gym. That’s how good shooters are.

“With repetition, with success and, in this case, he has teammates who he can rely upon to take some of the load off.”

One of those teammates has been Connor Santoni, who has played a strong inside game all year, Kenney said.

“Part of both of their increased success this year (comes from) both of them are a little bigger, a little stronger and they’re more inclined to get into the contact, yet get their shoulder square and focus through a shot.

“Duncan is very good at keeping the pivot foot down and (assistant coach Paul Medeiros) and I have been working on Connor and he’s much improved, also.”

Nick Savoie, who had a pair of first-quarter threes, was next among Regi’s scorers Wednesday, with nine points.

Mike Galna, who had four three-pointers, and Arsalan Ijaz, who had two, each scored 15 points for Loyalist.

The pre-Christmas portion of the schedule concludes Thursday with a game at Sydenham, where the Holy Cross Crusaders, 2-1, will come off a week-long layoff to visit the Golden Eagles, who are 2-2.

Play will resume Tuesday, Jan. 7, when five games are scheduled.

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