By Darren Lum
Composure and maturity are being added to the characterization of the junior Red Hawks boys’ basketball team after a win over the Norwood Knights in the Kawartha A Interlock game against the visiting Norwood Knights on Tuesday Jan. 19 in Haliburton.
Coach Paul Longo was proud of his team for how it played down the stretch despite squandering a large 26-14 lead at the half.
“I’m proud of the guys. We haven’t had a lot of wins this year so we’ll take it” he said.
He was impressed by his team to hold off the Knights’ comeback efforts in the fourth to edge out the visitors 32-29.
“This was a good step in the right direction to be able to hold on to a game. Even though our second half wasn’t as great as our first half” he said. “They kept their composure. They kept their cool.”
Although the Knights made the game close in the fourth the large lead was built from momentum carried over from a day before when the Hawks were beaten by the Falcons 39-29 in what the coach calls their best performance of the season even besting the win over the Knights.
Longo thought the team had its challenges in the third quarters which are notoriously bad for Hawks’ teams over the years.
“I don’t know what it is with Haliburton basketball but third quarters have historically been really not good. I don’t know what else I need to do and try … maybe we shouldn’t have a break at the half” he said half joking.
The scoresheet revealed the Hawks scored only one point in the fourth compared to six by the Knights.
Haliburton was outscored by eight points in the entire second half.
Playing with the lead is not something the team is accustomed to working with.
“It’s all learning for junior basketball. We haven’t been in many of these situations this year where it’s been a tight game right down to the end. This was a great learning experience for our guys” he said referring to holding the lead down the stretch.
The back-to-back situation is still something the players are adjusting to but their coach believes the team handled it well because of their youthful energy.
“We played so well yesterday I wanted to keep building on that. I thought having a game right away was a good thing” he said.
This game wasn’t without highlights.
Among them included some solid defensive stops including one that helped to secure the win.
During the final minutes of the fourth quarter the Hawks forward Brandon Verstege had a clutch block said Longo.
“Read the play and made a big block and got the basketball back for us. That was the key to that [quarter]. That was a big play. That was a big play at the right time and we needed a stop” he said.
Verstege also chipped in with four points to finish the game.
Point guard teammate Sam Longo led all scorers with 17 points equaling his offensive output a day before against the Falcons. Teammates Jordan Lapierre added six Kade Bain had four and Alex Petrie scored one which was the only point scored by the Hawks in the fourth.
Haliburton will host the Titans on Wednesday Feb. 10 to end the season.
Interlock games determine seeding for the playoffs. Longo isn’t certain what A seed his team will be until all the Interlock games are played.
“This win will help” he said.
Longo acknowledges the peculiarity of sport when best efforts go unrewarded.
“We actually played a better team game yesterday than we did today. That’s just the way it is. Sometimes you get the wins and sometimes you don’t” he said.