Cougars shrug off slow start
The Welland Centennial Cougars live by the three-point shot and don’t plan to change their strategy any time soon.
The Cougars are built on their ability to score from long range and even when things aren’t going as well as planned, they stick to their guns.
The Cougars had an uncharacteristically slow start offensively Thursday but fought through it to defeat the E.L. Crossley Cyclone 65-34 in one of four championship round quarter-final games at the 63rd Annual Welland Tribune Basketball Tournament.
The Cougars netted just 12 points in the first quarter and at one point missed nine straight field goals.
Kennan Larmand, who finished with 13 points, was scoreless from the field in the first eight minutes as the entire team struggled to find their form.
“We just have to keep shooting. That’s what we do,” said Larmand, who netted 19 points in Centennial’s win over Lakeshore Catholic Wednesday. “We just try to play defence and then worry about the offensive part.”
Larmand said the Cougars were undeterred by their rough start.
“Sometimes you just miss. We were still confident we could shoot no matter what,” he said.
Centennial coach Phil Mosley normally doesn’t try and force a square peg into a round hole and change up things too much on offence, regardless of how things are going.
“I would like to see our kids attack more, but again, you play to your strengths,” he said. “We have the mindset that it’s going to drop and we’ll shoot our way out of it in some situations.
“That’s us. When you say live and die by the three, you have to do it.”
Mosley loves the confidence his team displayed early on.
“It’s a unique thing about these young guys. They have a quiet confidence. They don’t exude that confidence but it shows through on the floor in those situations. They don’t put their heads down. They just continue to shoot.”
Mosley would like to see his charges pay a little more attention at the other end of the court.
“I would like to see our intensity pick up on defence and generate some easier baskets just so they can transition into some easier offensive looks,” he said.
The Cougars finally got the ball to drop with some consistency and built a 32-14 lead by the half and extended it to 53-28 after three quarters.
Crossley coach Jamie Shepherd, who loved the compete level his players brought to the floor, couldn’t help but wonder how different things may have gone had his club been able to score early. The Cyclone netted just seven points in the opening quarter and went 2-for-9 from the floor.
“I felt like we had a strategy to take them off their primary game,” Shepherd said. “We did that for the first quarter but we couldn’t hit a basket. I felt like we protected the ball fairly well but we couldn’t hit the basket.”
Shepherd feels the experience can only help his squad down the line.
“They’re a good team but I felt like our strategy worked and that’s good sign. We just didn’t quite have the finish to pull it off.”
The Cougars are now two wins from a championship — they lost in the finals at least year’s tournament — but Mosley isn’t even thinking about Saturday.
“The semis are always super competitive,” he said. “It’s one game at a time. We don’t look forward to Saturday. We look forward to Friday.”
Larmand realizes the Cougars need to kick it up a notch.
“We need to play better tomorrow; we didn’t play that well today,” he said.
Scoring for the Cougars: Jacob Bray (15); Larmand (13); Connor Joliffe (13); Reese Radobenko (7); Tyler Dilts (7); Williston Goodfellow (4); Carl Paulemont (3); Nick Yioldassis (2): Malachi Abbott (1).
Scoring for the Cyclone: Josh Lahn (15); Davison Shepherd (5); Durieal Bell (4); Liam Milan (4); Ryan Dykstra (4); Evan Dobbie (2).
Up next: The Cougars take on the Denis Morris Reds Friday at Notre Dame at 6:30 p.m.
Lynx 70 Blue Bears 39
The Jean Vanier Lynx rebounded from an opening day loss to defeated the Port Colborne Blue Bears and advance to the consolation round semifinals.
Jacob Labonte paced the winners with 31 points and was named player of the game. Phil Angervil (22); Jacob Fontaine (13); Stephane Legagneur (4).
Port Colborne Blue Bears: Aidan Hawkins (10); player of the game Riley Lannen (8); Stephen Kapellas (8); Jake Bruno (5); Devon Doolittle (3); Thomas Slater (2); Dylan Cup (2); Mark Yungblut (1).
Up next: The Lynx take on Greater Fort Erie Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Notre Dame.