By: Teru Ikeda and Kajan Thiruthanikasalam
SCARBOROUGH, ONT. - After a balanced offensive effort led to an easy win against the La Cite Coyotes at home last night, the Centennial Colts had a much tougher task in hand against the visiting Algonquin Thunder, who were looking to extend their winning streak to seven after upsetting (and ending) the Seneca Sting's six-game winning streak yesterday, 82-72.
"We knew this game would be tough especially to a strong Algonquin squad," Trevor Challenger, Colts Head Coach said. "We wanted to finish strong from an up and down first half of the season."
After the women lost, the men's team were looking to make sure that Colts basketball earned a split for the day. And Centennial (6-4) did just that, making sure that thunder does not strike twice, gritting out an 86-69 victory over Algonquin (7-3) to close out 2018.
"We went back to the basic principles of defence and try to keep things simple as we continue to build on our defence," Challenger said of limiting Algonquin to 69 points.
The Colts won consecutive games for the first time since starting off the season on a three game winning streak.
"It was very important to come out of the gates and gain a lead versus La Cite (Friday Nov. 30) so we could rest guys towards the end," Challenger said. "Thankfully, it worked."
Five Colts scored in double figures, led by 13 points each from Quentin Herbert and Isaiah Adeboboye. Kyrin Henlin had all 12 of his points in the second half while Isaiah Cromwell-Wright and Ian Francis each dropped 11 before both of them fouled out late.
Dieu Merci Betoukoumessou grabbed a game high 10 rebounds while Cromwell-Wright led all players with four assists.
Ali-Hanad Yusuf dropped a game high 19 points off of the bench, going 11-12 from the charity stripe while David Tshimanga scored all 10 of his points in the first half. They were the only two Thunder players to score in double figures.
After each scoring in double figures against the Sting, the combination of Daoud Soukary, Simon Desta, and Gabriel Anderson were held to just 15 points combined on 4-19 shooting overall.
"We wanted to focus on limiting open looks and uncontested shots," Challenger said on limiting the trio. "They shot the ball extremely well versus Seneca and we wanted them them to feel uncomfortable against our defence."
Algonquin averaged 8.3 made triples a game and were coming off of a 10-20 showing from downtown against Seneca. They averaged 45.3 per cent shooting from the field overall for the season.
But today was a different story for the visitors as they were limited to their second lowest point total (69), field goal percentage (36.4 per cent), third lowest three point percentage (22.2 per cent) and least made threes with four.
"Defensive pressure on the ball and chasing shooters off the three (point line)," Challenger said. "We felt that if we put constant pressure on the shooters, it would force them to put up difficult shots."
Meanwhile, Centennial shot 43.4 per cent overall and held a 36-25 edge at the free throw line while making three more field goals (23-20).
Despite a 41-30 discrepancy in bench points, the Colts killed the Thunder on the glass (48-24), dished out more assists (9-4) and had more second chance points (20-8).
Cromwell-Wright picked up two early fouls in the first quarter but despite that, the score was tied at 15 after one as neither team was able to separate themselves from the other. Herbert and Soukary each led their teams with six first quarter points.
Tshimanga heated up in the second quarter with eight points as Algonquin used a 7-0 run midway through to go up by as many as six (31-25) as they shot 50 per cent in the quarter but Adeboboye's nine points in the second quarter had the Colts only trailing, 38-35, heading into intermission.
Held scoreless in the first half, Henlin came alive in the third, scoring nine points and Francis had six in the quarter as the home team went on a 21-10 run, shooting 58.3 per cent in the quarter (7-12).
But despite Algonquin going cold in the third (28.6 per cent), Yusuf kept them afloat with eight in the quarter as the Thunder scored the last five points of the quarter and trailed by only three (60-57) heading into the final frame.
A layup from Justin Foster cut the Colts' lead to 63-59 but that was the closest the Thunder would get as Centennial would promptly score nine unanswered to extend the lead to double digits. The visitors did not help matters out as they shot themselves in the foot with seven fourth quarter turnovers while being outscored, 14-3, at the foul line.
And with the officiating frustrating both teams throughout the game, it was the Thunder who lost their heads, particularly Desta, as he committed an unsportsmanlike foul on Herbert with less than a minute to go in the game.
Desta was not having it and had choice words for the official; he then was hit with consecutive technical fouls and hit the showers early. Herbert, who had seven in the quarter, hit five of his last six free throws to close out the game.
TOP 3 COLTS PERFORMERS OF THE GAME
- Isaiah Adeboboye: 13 points, 6 rebounds (4/8 FG, 5/6 FT)
- Dieu Merci (DM) Betoukoumessou: 6 points, 10 rebounds (6 OREB)
- Quentin Herbert: 13 points (3/9 FG, 7/9 FT)
CATCH OUR NEXT GAME
There are no more games for 2018 as the Colts look to start off the second half of the season strong on Friday Jan. 11, 2019, on the road against the top seed in the OCAA East, the George Brown Huskies, at 8:00 pm.
Centennial's next home game will be on Tuesday Jan. 15 at 8:00 pm against the Loyalist Lancers.
"Even though we thought we lost games that we shouldn't have, it could be the best learning experience for our group to learn how to deal with adversity," Challenger said. "Second half (of the season) is when we need to be more consistent, execute the game plan and be disciplined each game.
The Colts community is excited to see what the men's team has in store for the busy new year!