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Ragged post-break opener results in Holy Cross victory

January 8, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

As basketball games go, Holy Cross Crusaders’ 47-38 senior win Tuesday over the Bayridge Blazers was pretty ragged.

For the first game after the Christmas break, however, it was typical.

“We had two practices, a scrimmage and our alumni game but it’s not the same as getting actual games,” said Holy Cross coach Robin Dzjiernieko. “We’re happy with the win but it’s a tough first game after the break.”

Indeed it was. There were 34 fouls called — about half that many again could have been whistled — the shooting ranged from abysmal all the way to mediocre and organized play was discounted like a leftover holiday decoration.

Brent Martindale led the Crusaders with 20 points, eight of them in a first quarter that ended with the visiting team scoring nine straight points to take a 15-6 lead.

As much as that, though, Dzjiernieko was pleased with the performance of some players who haven’t enjoyed the spotlight this year.

“We got some really good minutes from some of our kids who haven’t given us great minutes,” he said, citing among them Devon Christian.

“He hasn’t played basketball in two years. He’s starting to figure it out now. He’s one of the fastest guys in our league, a very quick first step, explosive and super athletic.

‘That’s the kind of intensity we like, where a guy comes out and he wants to play. He wants to work. You can see it on the court. There’s a certain sparkle in their eyes when they know they’ve only got a year or two years left in the sport and then they’re done. It’s when a player has that glimmer in their eye, that’s a kid that you want to play. We have a fair number of those guys on our team.”

Another of them, first-year senior Braydon Norris, came off the bench to score 10 points for Holy Cross, including a 4-for-5 performance from the free-throw line.

“He always wants to play,” Djiernieko said. “Every scrimmage that we have, even when he was in Grade 10 and undersized, he’d come out and play with 30-year-old guys, banging around. He works and he’s smooth.

“We’re trying to have him figure out his role and get used to the physical play,” Dzjiernieko said. “If he keeps working at it, he could be a dangerous player.”

The win was the fourth in five games for Holy Cross, which kept pace in the tight Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior standings with the Frontenac Falcons, 57-37 winners over the Sydenham Golden Eagles Tuesday, and the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers, who defeated the visiting Granite Ridge Gryphons 55-34.

Elsewhere, the undefeated Kingston Blues moved into sole possession of first place, two points ahead of the idle La Salle Black Knights, with a 52-34 victory over the Lancers at Loyalist, and the Queen Elizabeth Raiders gained their first win of the season at the expense of the winless Napanee Golden Hawks, who dropped a 55-52 decision at QE.

Thursday play resumes with five games, the most notable of which is a 7:30 clash at La Salle between the Knights and KC, the league’s last two remaining undefeated teams.

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