Ashburton College nearly pulled off the upset of the season against St Andrews in this week’s senior boys secondary school basketball. Coach Brian Kerr was a proud man – here’s how he saw the game:
Ashburton College took on the top team St Andrews College (STAC), losing 92-91 in a thriller that went to the last second.
STAC have been convincing in their last three games and boast an exciting lineup, so College were always going to be up against it.
College started off well and got out to an early 8–0 lead which meant STAC called an early time out. This helped them reset, however College continued to make inroads until STAC were able to penetrate for some easy baskets and taking the lead 23–18 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was also tight. STAC looked to break away but College kept finding a way back and trailed at the break 43–36.
The third quarter started briskly for College, however STAC were able to string together a series of plays which pushed them out to 18 points. Again College found a way to fight back as they improved their defensive effort and managed to draw back to 72–59 at the end of the quarter.
With the fourth quarter, College were still within reach. However for the first three minutes they were unable to make any inroads.
A timeout was called and a change was made to the defence. College went to full court with the emphasis on denying the ball into the court. The STAC guards panicked and soon the turnovers came thick and fast. College had turned the game on its head as they took a 91–89 lead with one minute to go.
STAC managed to break through the press as they managed a drive and a score to equalise.
This was all about who held their nerve. College with the ball and a turnover, STAC with the ball and another turnover.
College ran their offence and Riley Sa got a good look from 3-point range but it was just off the mark. STAC rebounded and navigated the defensive pressure applied by College. Another foul on STAC earned them a trip to the line. The first one dropped but the second one missed and the ball bounced out but wasn’t claimed.
A STAC player got a hand to it which bounced off Kambell Stills’ shoulder to go out of court to give STAC the ball back. However Kambell managed a turnover and College still had a shot. They moved the ball up the court only for STAC to put pressure on the ball. Another shot went up, missed and with a split second left, a lunge to the ball again by Stills as he attempted to tip the ball in landed just scraped the front of the ring.
STAC 92, College 91.
For College, Riley Sa was massive at both ends of the court. His aggressive defence created turnovers and every time it looked like STAC would break out, he managed to find the basket. He scored 42 points (seven 3-pointers) including 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Kambell Stills was always a threat and worked hard on the boards finishing with 15 points (one 3-pointer). Jamie Reid had another tidy game, always looking to drive and create. He finished with 11 points (one 3-pointer)
All of the guys that got time on the court put their hands up, whether it was defensively or dropping the odd basket or both. It was a wonderful team effort.
The fourth quarter fightback was indicative of the defensive intensity applied throughout the game. There were times it looked like a blowout was on the cards but they showed enormous fight and should walk away with heads held high.
Their best game of the season.
Action from Basketball Mid Canterbury men’s A grade on Wednesday:
The first game was between Wildlife and a full strength Nomads team. The difference was clear from the start as they produced a good quarter whilst being able to restrict Wildlife with a more cohesive defence. Nomads leading 22–14.
The second quarter was a repeat of the first as Nomads upped their effort at both ends of the court. They got their running game going. Wildlife struggled to match them.
By the half Nomads had extended their lead 53–31.
After the halftime break, with Wildlife struggling offensively, Emiliano Guerra injected himself more into the game as he started to drive more at the basket. He created some problems for the Nomads defence but Wildlife’s issue was that their defence lacked structure which allowed Nomads to respond in kind. The difference remained at 22 points, 73–51 at the end of the third quarter.
When the fourth quarter started, Wildlife lifted their efforts and it paid dividends as they went on a 9–2 run. Nomads reset themselves and then sped up the game and Wildlife were unable to narrow the gap. Nomads running out winners 100-78.
For Nomads Kody Stuthridge netted 26 points (two 3-pointers) in a top all round performance. Pete Kirwan back from injury finished with 20 points (four 3-pointers) in a tidy display with Tony Gilbert driving strongly for 18 points.
For Wildlife it was Emiliano Guerra again leading the way with 20 points, half of them from the free throw line. Sam Pearce continued on his good form with 18 points (one 3-pointer) whilst Liam O’Connor had a good game netting 17 points (three 3-pointers).
Overall it was a polished effort from Nomads. They’re clearly a better team when they have everyone on deck. Their defence was more organised and their offence structure worked well. They were able to get their fast break going which created opportunities.
Wildlife just couldn’t get going offensively as ball rotation was laboured. Just probably flat at times.
The second game was deemed to be a tight encounter between the unbeaten MSA Team Donkey who were taking on Newlands and it did not disappoint.
The opening stanza saw Newlands make a good start as they went out to a 10–2 run early on. MSA Team Donkey struggled offensively as they couldn’t quite get into rhythm.
Newlands ahead 24–17 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter was more of the same as the MSA Team Donkey zone defence was proving unusually ineffective as the Newlands shooters were able to find their mark. The lead had stretched out to 51–37 at the break.
Like all good teams, MSA Team Donkey weren’t going to sit back and let this happen so they came out with a half court man-to-man defence. It worked immediately as it created uncertainty in the Newlands offence. They began forcing their shots whilst MSA Team Donkey now started to find their way to the basket.
By the end of the quarter they had dragged the score back to 62–60.
The fourth quarter was going to be a cracker. This is MSA Team Donkey’s go-to quarter where they tend to take control and for the first three minutes it looked like this was running to script. However Newlands had other ideas as they intensified their defensive effort as well began working their offence better. Suddenly the Newlands shooters found space and the basket. It was a couple of big 3-pointers by Nick Fechney that sealed the deal with Newlands winning 86–75 in an entertaining encounter.
For Newlands it was Marvin Agacer leading the way with 25 points (four 3-pointers). He produced some nice moves on offence to get himself space to score. Randy Buenafe put in 20 points (three 3-pointers) in another good display, whilst Nick Fechney, just back after a couple of weeks off, finished with 18 points (three 3-pointers) in a tidy effort.
For MSA Team Donkey, it was Fotu Hala leading the way with some nice offensive plays. He finished with 23 points (two 3-pointers). Cam Butler with 20 points (one 3-pointer) was busy both ends of the court whilst Pip Johnston finished with 19 points (one 3-pointer).
This was a tight game where a couple of big shots made the difference. Newlands were also focused on their defence, very aware of the shooting capability of the MSA Team Donkey team and the need to try and negate them.
On the flipside, the changeup of defence by MSA Team Donkey to man-to-man after the break almost turned the game back their way as their zone defence in the first half had been ineffective. They also didn’t shoot as well as they normally do especially in the first half.
A top game to finish off the round.
Points after round one: MSA Team Donkey, Newlands 9 points (3 wins, 1 loss); Nomads 6 points (2/2); Wildlife, College 3 points (1/3).