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Basketball’s third season off to rocky start

February 10, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

You really can’t blame the players.

It’s not their fault that pesky things like Christmas and exams leave their sport’s schedule with two large gaps in it, twin sinkholes that will suck the continuity out from under the best of teams.

It isn’t enough that high school basketball players have to find a groove at the beginning of their season, like every other athlete does. They have to do it again after the holiday and Tuesday they were at it once more, trying to shake the rust that comes from all that time in the library — or wherever it is basketball players go when their gyms are filled with people writing exams.

It should be no surprise to anyone, then, that Tuesday’s senior game at Frontenac was rough, both in the context of bodies flying, and rough, as in sandpaper on silk when it came to executing some of the game’s finer technical elements.

The Falcons emerged with a 44-32 victory, their sixth in a row, over the Holy Cross Crusaders in a Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association game that at times had enough contact to make a football coach proud and enough bad shooting to make a basketball coach weep.

It was a game for a while. There were five lead changes late in the first quarter and early in the second but after the Crusaders went ahead 13-12 in the first minute of the second period, Frontenac went on a 13-2 run that essentially put the game away.

Holy Cross trailed 25-17 at halftime but to overcome that the Crusaders were going to have to play better than they did in a third quarter where they scored just four points.

It was an odd game in that both teams scored more three-point baskets than they did two-pointers (Frontenac had eight threes and seven twos; Holy Cross had six threes and only five other baskets in the entire game).

Two of Holy Cross’ starters — Devon Christian and Jeremy Pendergast — were held off the scoresheet entirely and the Crusaders managed to stay in the game as long as they did thanks only to eight points off the bench in the first half, including threes from Matt Biber and Davis Maschi.

Tristan Halladay had an outstanding game for Frontenac, with 17 points, a total that included five three-point baskets. Carter Matheson had 12 points for the Falcons, now 8-1, nine of them in the first half.

Jonathan Besselink, who scored three times from beyond the arc, led Holy Cross with 11 points, as the Crusaders, who had won six in a row, fell to 6-2.

In other senior games Tuesday, the injury-riddled La Salle Black Knights defeated the Queen Elizabeth Raiders 84-32, the Kingston Blues defeated the visiting Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers 49-40, the Sydenham Golden Eagles beat the Napanee Golden Hawks 48-23 and the Loyalist Lancers dumped the Granite Ridge Gryphons 49-30.

At QE, La Salle improved to 8-1 despite missing three starters due to injury — Bruce Burns, Nick Ackley and Cole Busschaert. In their absence, Braden Elliot, Mason Kenehan and Keith O’Halloran came off the bench to deliver fine performances, with Elliot leading the team with 20 points and Kenehan scoring 17.

Tanner Graham had 15 points, Jesse Graham scored 12 and O’Halloran finished with 11 as five different Knights reached double figures.

With its win, KC, 7-2, strengthened its grip on third place, two points ahead of Holy Cross, which has two games left to play, one of them Thursday at home versus KC.

The Regi loss and Sydenham’s win leave those two teams tied for fifth place at 5-4, a tie that will be broken Thursday when the Panthers visit Sydenham for the final regular-season game for both teams.

With a victory that snapped a five-game losing streak, Loyalist clinched eighth place and the final playoff spot, but it’s a dubious distinction since it comes with a first-round playoff date with La Salle. The Knights can only fail to finish first if they lose their final game, Wednesday at Sharbot Lake against winless Granite Ridge.

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