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La Salle prevails in lopsided battle of undefeated teams

January 10, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

That’s all the other senior basketball teams in the county needed — the La Salle Black Knights now playing with a stiff dose of resolve.

As if the undefeated Knights weren’t imposing enough to opponents, the newly inspired version stunned the Kingston Blues, the league’s other unbeaten team going into Thursday night’s contest at La Salle, with a 59-34 victory.

The Knights closed the first quarter with a 19-2 run that established a 25-6 lead. They were in control of the game from about its third minute on.

The inspiration for the outburst was a loss to Frontenac in a recent tournament. The defeat ended a season-long 19-game winning streak in league and tournament play for La Salle, and the sting of that setback has restored some of the drive that had started to wane the more the Knights had their way with opponents.

“You know how some losses aren’t bad because they wake you up?” La Salle coach Karen Graham said. “They needed waking up.

“(Losing that game) actually helped a lot. Our two games since then have been much better.”

Graham said the missing ingredient in that Frontenac game was intensity. “The boys didn’t show up and Frontenac played well. They looked more ready. We played the last four minutes, literally, and that was it, but I think they learned a lesson from that.

“It was actually not a bad thing in the end.”

La Salle spotted KC a two-point lead before roaring back. In the opening period Jesse Graham scored 12 points and Bruce Burns hit three three-point baskets.

“They shot the ball really well,” Blues coach Sam Miller said. “It’s hard to defend a team that’s got the kind of post presence that they have and a bunch of kids who are shooting from the perimeter who are semi-conscious.”

KC didn’t have an answer for La Salle’s two big men, brothers Jesse and Tanner Graham. Tanner had 11 rebounds and nine assists, while Jesse had seven rebounds to go with his game-high 19 points.

“They just wear you down,” Miller said. “(Jesse) is going to get his points but it’s demoralizing when he scores on rebounds. We planned to double him but it took us a quarter to figure it out. We doubled high side and we should have doubled low side, but that’s not to say it would have made a whole lot of difference in the first quarter.

“He goes in and if he doesn’t score he’s kicking it out … and if they shoot that well — you pick your poison, really.”

La Salle substituted freely in the second half and KC played better, as the Knights outscored the visitors just 21-18 over the final two quarters.

“I’m really happy with our kids because they worked hard,” Miller said. “We got rattled in the first half and didn’t really do what we wanted to do, which was to slow the game down and run half-court sets and get high percentage shots. In the second half we did a better job of that but I like these kids because they work hard.

“We’re going to get better. I just hope (La Salle) doesn’t get too much better.”

Bound for the 52-team Jaguar Classic tournament in Ottawa this weekend, La Salle got nine points from Burns and seven off the bench from Braden Elliot, all in the fourth quarter. In all, the Knights drained nine three-pointers, from five different players.

KC played without one of its top players, Wesley Laird, still unable to make a travel connection back to Canada from somewhere in the tropics. “I don’t know how much he misses us,” Miller said, “but we sure missed him.”

Sayre Powers led the Blues with 14 points.

Elsewhere in the Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association Thursday, the three teams tied for third place at 5-1 all won comfortably — the Frontenac Falcons defeated the Loyalist Lancers 65-31; Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers downed the Queen Elizabeth Raiders 66-46 and the Holy Cross Crusaders dumped the winless Granite Ridge Gryphons 49-17.

In Thursday’s other game, the Bayridge Blazers, 3-4, ended a four-game skid with a 70-45 win over the Napanee Golden Hawks.

• • •

In the game at Loyalist, Frontenac scored the first seven points of the game, took it to 13-2 and never looked back. Loyalist, unable to score from three-point range, unable to work the ball inside, and soundly beaten under the glass at both ends of the floor, never got the lead under double digits after that.

Carter Matheson scored 15 points to lead Frontenac, which got scoring from nine different players. Aidan Stride scored 10, Tristan Halladay scored nine and Quincy Saunders-Scholes came off the bench also to score nine, including a pair of three-point baskets.

Mike Galna scored 12 points for Loyalist, the proceeds of four three-pointers.

• • •

In the Division Street Challenge game at QE, Regi held just a two-point lead at halftime but turned it up a notch in the third quarter, outscoring the Raiders 27-4.

Duncan Lambert scored 23 points for Regi, while Connor Santoni added 15.

• • •

Playing at Napanee, Bayridge got double-digit scoring from three different players: Austen Macklem and Josh Barrett, who scored 13 points apiece, and Derek Platt, who scored 11. Brad Burriss led all scorers with 20 points for the winless Golden Hawks.

Play resumes Tuesday with five games, the most significant of which will be a 5 o’clock match at Regi, where the Frontenac Falcons will visit.

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