St. Thomas Titans defender Jacob Thalen looks to block Red Hawks forward Zak Shantz during Kawartha High School Basketball League action on Tuesday Dec. 12 in Haliburton. The Hawks cruised to a 53-33 win after a tight first quarter when the score was tied 14-14. Hawks captain Sam Longo led all players with 16 points which included four three-pointers. Teammate Owen Smith-Patterson finished with 13 points and Titans player Thalen scored 12 in a losing effort./DARREN LUM Staff

Hawks rebound from home opener loss

By Darren Lum

Published Dec. 19 2017

After a close loss to the Fenelon Falls Falcons a week earlier in Haliburton the Red Hawks senior basketball team responded on Tuesday Dec. 12 with a resounding 53-23 win over the Titans of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School.

It was a statement game coach Paul Longo said.

“For us this is a huge game because this is a single A game and means something for seeding in playoffs. We’re allowed to qualify two A teams out of  the [Kawartha] west division. A 20 point win today is a big deal especially when we go down and play them after Christmas” he said.

There are three A teams in Kawartha West: HHSS St. Thomas and Brock High School. In the entire Kawartha League there are nine A teams.

The Hawks had just played in the Green and White Senior Boys Basketball Tournament in Peterborough squaring off against schools such as Lindsay Collegiate Vocational Institute and Collingwood Collegiate Institute. The tournament also included basketball powerhouse Nicholson Catholic College.

Longo said the Hawks played great and although they did not win any of their tournament games they were competitive with less than 10 points as the average deficit in the losses.

“I was hoping that experience helped with our confidence. I think it did. It showed today. We were poised. We started a little slow but then we really started to get some great defensive stops and our fast break [offence] worked in the second quarter third quarter. We had some hot shooters” he said. “I liked our team defence too. Our team defence was really really strong and we had a nine point lead at the half. I knew we probably could open it up if we kept with the plan … I just really liked our fight and intensity the whole way through. We didn’t get down on ourselves. We stuck with the plan” he said.

This game started very competitively with the Titans.

Starting guard for the Hawks Sam Longo kept his team in it early with a pair of three-pointers for the team’s first six points minutes into the game when no other Hawks player could score. The Hawks had to erase a four point deficit to even the first quarter 14-14 which was made possible because of a successful bank shot by Hawks guard Owen Smith-Patterson to end the quarter.

During the break between quarters Longo took feedback from his players to implement a change in the offense to help create more space in the key.

“It was a good call by a couple of the guys. They found it was getting too clogged inside. We went to a five-out [five players out of the key] and set some screens. We felt our guards could get to the hoop with some screens and it opened up for [outside] shots” he said.

The Hawks went on to outscore the Titans 15-6 in the second quarter and then continued to outpace the visitors 24 to 13 to close out the game. In the second half the Titans were shown a glimmer of hope as they gained some momentum when the Hawks were settling for solo efforts and missing.

Longo settled his team with a time out and had them refocus returning to a stronger attention on team play. He adds getting his team to work through plays and manage the clock is important and is a work in progress.

“With these guys in high school basketball it’s about finding some patience and slowing things down a little bit. We’re getting there” he said.

Home court advantage also brings some disadvantages.

The week before against the Falcons when the Hawks only lost by four points 28- 24 the home court factored. In this game the Hawks kept their focus and stayed true to their game plan for the most part.

“We didn’t play a good home game … we lost by four and we wanted to fix that and I think we did. We didn’t let the home crowd get into our heads a little bit. We kept poised and under control. I thought Sam and Owen Patterson-Smith had really strong games” he said.

Longo adds the pair didn’t turn the ball over very much and were effective in distributing the ball.

“They’re smart players and it really helped” he said.

The Hawks starting back court of Patterson-Smith and Sam dominated the game.

Their complementary styles which spreads the defence with Patterson-Smith’s inside game and Longo’s outside proficiency for the three lit up the Titans’ defence to the tune of a combined 29 points – more than half of the Hawks’ point total and nearly more than the Titans.

This game’s starting five included Hawks basketball rookie Paydon Miscio who dominated on the boards at the power forward position like he did in the Green and White tournament.

Against the Falcons he played a limited role but seized the opportunity with greater time pulling down boards stealing and even scoring six points.

Longo said Kade Bain was also a force inside and all over the court.

“These guys have  skyrocketed the last two weeks” he said.

The pair combined for 10 points and several rebounds each.

Zak Shantz Longo said is an important player to the team for his energy and intensity.

The week before his absence due to fouling out in the second half was noticeable. Against the Titans he played composed and disciplined and avoided foul trouble. His intensity is great for the team Longo said. Shantz finished with four points. Another solid effort came from Jonas Hill who was solid on the glass and chipped win with six points.

There have been a few players unable to dress due to health issues.

The team is without power forward Kyle Cooper (ankle) multi-position player Rylan Gwyn (ankle) and point guard Austin French (flu). Cooper and Gwyn are unlikely to return to the team until after the holidays Longo said.

For all the notable individual performances the team had eight of the 14 players register a point in the game. In addition to the offensive contributions the team was solid on defence whether it was on the boards or in clogging the passing lanes.

“It was just a good team win” he said.