Gutsy Knights fall to Wolves in quarter-finals
Niagara’s Molly Taylor drives to the basket in OCAA quarter-final action Friday night.
Janee Harrison left it all on the court — and some of it in a garbage can —as the Niagara College Knights women’s basketball team dropped a 63-53 decision to the Algonquin Wolves in Ontario Colleges Athletic Association quarter-final action Friday night at Niagara College.
In between coughing bouts and throwing up in a trash container, the second-year forward scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds as the Knights gave the unbeaten Wolves all they could handle.
“I have a really bad cough and I have asthma so it triggers it if I cough too much. It makes me nauseous,” Harrison said of her taking out the trash.
The 19-year-old St. Catharines native got though it the old-fashioned way.
“It was adrenaline, I guess. You keep going and you push that head space out of the way.”
At one point in the fourth quarter, Harrison gestured to be subbed out but with one player injured and another fouled out on the nine-woman roster, she had to suck it up and keep playing.
“You have to find a way to keep going and you have to find a way to keep fighting through it.”
Harrison was impressed with the effort of the Knights. Many were coughing during the game and several did not look at their finest.
“Half of our team is sick. It kind of got passed through the whole team a week ago and we are all kind of in the middle of it. We just tried to play through.”
The loss ended a good finish to the season by the Knights.
“Closer to the end was pretty good. The last two games against St. Clair and Lambton were good and we had a few ups and downs,” she said. “There is stuff to work on for next season.”
Personally, Harrison felt that she improved this season.
“It went pretty well but there’s definitely stuff that I could still improve on,” she said. “I think I am more confident with the ball driving and defensively I realized that I am more of a threat. I can be that person to step in, take charges and help on defence.”
She described the quarter-final loss as a learning moment.
“We have to focus on next season now and figure out what we need to do to get better in the off-season and come hard for next season.”
Niagara head coach Chris Rao had no complaints about his team’s effort Friday night.
“We have Janee throwing up in a garbage can and we have been sick for two weeks. We’ve just been getting healthy the last couple of days and it was a gutsy performance,” he said. “We just didn’t make the plays to close it out. There were couple rebounds there and we just couldn’t get it done.”
He gave Algonquin full credit for the win.
“They are a good team. They made some shots that were tough but we will have to live with them and go forward.”
Niagara trailed 20-12 after one quarter and 40-27 at the half before cutting the lead to 47-43 heading into the final quarter. They couldn’t get any closer the rest of the way.
“They are a good basketball team but we are a good basketball team. That is what you get when two good teams play,” Rao said. “I don’t think that we are an easy mark or a big underdog. That was a well-matched game and we had some injuries during the game, some foul trouble and it didn’t go our way. We didn’t defend their actions as well as we have been working on all week and that’s a little disappointing. We did a much better job of it in the second half but in the first half we got caught sleeping.”
Rao described his team’s season as positive.
“It was a struggle. I am so proud of that group of nine girls that made it all the way through and it is hard on their bodies,” he said. “For nine kids to make it this far, they probably deserve a better ending than this. We are proud of them and my job is to make sure it is not nine of them again next year. It should be more like 14 or 15 and that’s what I owe them. They were warriors.”
Semifinals will be contested Saturday at 3:30 and 6 p.m. Sunday’s schedule sees the bronze-medal game at 1 p.m. and the championship game at 3:30 p.m.
Ticket prices are $15 for the weekend and $10 per day. Children under 12 are free.
WOLVES 63 KNIGHTS 53
BPSN Player of the Game: Niagara’s Molly Taylor 11 points, eight rebounds, five blocked shots and two steals in 22 minutes of playing time before fouling out early in the fourth quarter.
For the Niagara College Knights: Taryn Mitchell 15; Janee Harrison 15; Taylor 11.
For the Algonquin Wolves: Dasia McDonald 16; Libby Hirst 15; Meaghan McNamara 10.
Game stats: Shooting percentage: Niagara 25.7, Algonquin 33.9. Free throws: Niagara 14-20, Algonquin 19-25. Rebouds: Niagara 47, Algonquin 39. Turnovers: Niagara 13, Algonquin 15.
Up next: Algonquin Wolves advances to Saturday’s semifinals.