By Garrett Simmons
Southern Alberta Newspapers
A tough semi-final loss had the W.R. Myers Rebels boys basketball team settling for fourth in its home tournament last weekend.
In one of the tournament’s marquee games, the Rebels faced off against Airdrie’s Bert Church, in a game head coach Greg Bowes said could have gone either way, if not for a little bad luck late, as Airdrie stole an 80-70 win.
“The game was a battle right from the start,” said Bowes. “We came out strong with some hot shooting by Jeremy Steed and Blake Bullock and some good transition and were able to maintain a lead throughout the first quarter.”
That translated to an extremely-tight game after one half of play.
“We found ourselves down by a bucket at half,” said Bowes, who added things started to go sideways as things tipped off again. “Our third-quarter defence was weak and they were up by 10 after the third.”
But if not for a few key misses in the final frame, the game could have gone in a different direction.
“Our boys battled back hard in the fourth and came to within one point on a few different occasions but couldn’t get the lead back,” said Bowes, who pointed to a few crucial plays. “We missed a couple of tuck-ins and many free throws down the stretch and lost 80-70. I feel like if we would have been able to get the lead back in the fourth, we would have had all the momentum with the packed gym and may have been able to finish it off. We just didn’t play well enough during crunch time.”
The tournament started on a positive note for the Rebels, however, as the home side earned a dominant win in the opener.
“We started off strong on Friday night against Brooks,” said Bowes. “Led by a combined 51 points from Blake Bullock and Nathan Bennett, we were able to win 104-60.”
The coach added Myers had a decided advantage in the paint, and used it to full advantage.
“I thought our bigs inside — Lewis Leray and Marcus Andrus, were exceptional on the boards and finishing their tuck-ins inside. Our seniors — Daxon Matthews, Jesse Witwer, Thomas Platt, Jeremy Steed and Bennett, started the game with a ton of energy and were able to build an early 20-point lead and we never looked back.”
In the end, the loss to Airdrie in the semis proved deflating to a home side looking to play in the big game Saturday night for the tournament championship. Instead, it turned out the third-place game was hard for the team to get up for.
“The third place game versus Kate Andrews was rough,” said Bowes. “The boys were pretty disappointed after losing the semi-final and we had absolutely no energy.”
That translated to a rough start, as the Coaldale team came out strong right from the opening tip.
“Kate Andrews jumped on us early, going up 9-0,” said Bowes. “We had a little run to end the first quarter and had a brief 10-point lead, but we just could not sustain any effort, our systems broke down and we couldn’t shoot the ball at all.”
That said, the coach was quick to point out the Coaldale squad deserved full marks for the win.
“Credit to Kate Andrews, as they played a heck of a game and were on fire for most of the game. We just had nothing left in the tank and played probably our worst game of the season, which was really disappointing considering it was at our home tournament with a packed gym. Hopefully, we can learn and improve from the weekend games and the boys can continue to stay motivated to improve as we prepare for the final stretch of the season.”