By: Teru Ikeda and Kajan Thiruthanikasalam
SCARBOROUGH, ONT. - A road trip east of Toronto last weekend in which they placed two uneven games against the St. Lawrence Vikings and the Loyalist Lancers, respectively, the Centennial Colts were looking to establish their ground on home turf against the La Cite Coyotes on both ends of the floor.
They did exactly that as Centennial's balanced offensive effort was at the forefront of what was an easy 85-65 win over La Cite at the Athletic and Wellness Centre (AWC), in what was the first leg of a back-to-back to close out the first half of the season.
Isaiah Cromwell-Wright led the Colts with 13 points, seven rebounds and two steals while Ian Francis had 12 off of the bench and Kyrin Henlin scored 11. Isaiah Adeboboye dished out a game high five assists for Centennial in the win.
For the Coyotes, Andy Kumwamba led all players with 17 points, 10 rebounds and three steals; he also tied for the team lead in assists with two in the loss. Harouna Diop and Ulric Kiamba each had 12 for La Cite.
Bench scoring was the key for this game as the Colts reserves mauled the Coyotes bench by a score of 45-18 and they also moved the ball extremely well, doubling their season average with 18 assists.
"We switched it up a bit today," Francis said about the lineup change, acknowledging his move as more of a sixth man role. "And when the bench came on, we were able to keep that pace and actually extend on the lead."
"This past week at practice, we worked on a few different principles on ball movement, spacing and transition. We wanted to focus on having a better start," Trevor Challenger, Colts Head Coach said. "The bench just needed more opportunities to be comfortable on court."
Centennial made five more field goals, triples and free throws each and held a 22-10 edge in second chance points as well as a 37-28 margin on the glass. The spread-out scoring from the Colts was clearly evident as 11 of the 12 players for the home team that got minutes made a field goal.
"I think our guys are realizing where they can find opportunities on the offensive glass for rebounds and scores," Challenger said. "We wanted to move the ball quicker; we found that it was sticking in certain areas of our offence."
"What we were doing in practice really showed today but they're more of a weaker team so we want to bring that energy into tomorrow as well and not get too excited about this win," Francis acknowledged. "But this is how we're supposed to be playing. The ball is moving and everybody is scoring."
Meanwhile, La Cite committed just four turnovers and held a 36-24 edge in points in the paint. However, a majority of those points inside came with the game well out of hand.
Both teams started off dragging their feet offensively as the score was 4-3 for the Colts until Adeboboye's triple from the left wing broke Centennial's drought with 5:26 left in the first quarter.
That three sparked a 19-5 run from the home team to put them up 23-8 after a quarter; Francis had six first quarter points for the Colts as they shot 45 per cent from the field (9-20).
Centennial extended that run to 23-5 with four straight to open the second quarter to widen their lead to 19 at 27-8 and it remained at that margin (32-13) with over six minutes to go in the first half.
But for the next four minutes, the Colts remained stuck at 32 as the Coyotes pulled off 11 unanswered points to cut the lead to single digits; the hosts coughed it up five times during the second quarter alone.
The visitors outscored Centennial, 19-13, in the frame as they were only down eight (36-27) heading into intermission. Kiamba led all scorers with 10 first half points.
Determined not to let the Coyotes get any closer, the Colts scored six straight to open up the second half and eventually on a 26-11 run, capped off by a corner triple from Khaleel Sutherland.
Cromwell-Wright had seven points and five rebounds in the quarter alone and Centennial had a 13-3 edge on the boards in the third, including consecutive offensive rebounds off of missed free throws.
Four straight points from the Coyotes, the last basket of the quarter coming off of a steal and layup from Ylane Kouassi, inched them a little bit closer; however, they were down 62-42 heading into the final frame.
In the fourth quarter, both teams were deadlocked at 23 as Kumwamba led the Coyotes with eight points while Carlo Pantaleon led the Colts with six on consecutive triples as the home side coasted to an easy win.
"Defense is always a key," Francis said on limiting the Coyotes' offence. "It's always a main focus going into every game because defense wins championships."
Centennial improves to 5-4 while La Cite is 1-8.
TOP 3 PERFORMERS OF THE GAME
Ian Francis (12 points, 4/6 FG)
Isaiah Cromwell Wright (13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals)
Kyrin Henlin (11 points, 6 rebounds)
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No player on Centennial was on the floor for 30 minutes with Henlin topping the Colts with 29. Keeping legs fresh will be crucial especially tomorrow afternoon at 3:00pm with a stern test against the Algonquin Thunder (7-2), who defeated the Seneca Sting, 82-72, on the road tonight.
"Algonquin, led by head coach Trevor Costello, is a tough minded, disciplined team that executes in the half court," Challenger said. "We just have to take away their strengths and limit them to one shot."
This is the last game before first semester ends for the Colts.