Junior ballers dominate Kawartha playoffs
The timing of the Red Hawks junior boys’ basketball team’s maturation couldn’t have been better.
It’s a beautiful thing when a team shows it can execute a coach’s strategy and stay within itself towards achieving success.
Hawks head coach Gord Cochrane had a large smile, commenting on the “nice team victory” and its showcase of work ethic and execution on both sides of the ball, following the 35-20 win against the Norwood Knights in the A Kawartha championship final in Haliburton.
“The guys really played well. I told them at the beginning of the game I don’t want anyone taking three-point shots and they ... you could see them sometimes ... I want to shoot this [three]. I really want to shoot this. You could just read it on their faces and then they resisted,” he said. “I told them don’t take a three pointer. We’re going to get a little 15-footer shot and a 12-foot. They’re much better percentage shot and they did it. I was really pleased. They played good defence.”
He adds, the team also played responsibly with the ball, limiting turnovers.
Haliburton led by seven points at the halftime break. By the end of the third quarter, the Hawks dominated and shutout their opponents with a 15-0 run for an insurmountable 31-9 lead. Norwood got on the scoreboard in the fourth and played more competitively, scoring 11 points, but Haliburton stayed ahead in the quarter battle, scoring 15 points and closed out the game to win.
The team will now represent Kawartha A as the top seed at the COSSA (Central Ontario Secondary School Athletics) tournament this week.
When the Hawks started the season, he said, they lacked discipline, but factored in the success the team enjoyed. With the personnel, this team is best suited to play an inside and outside style of game and have worked hard to execute this strategy, which improved steadily over the season, resulting in the title win.
Assisted by Sam Little, the team has been preaching discipline and team play from the beginning.
Discipline was part of the game plan, as Cochrane instituted a no three-point shot rule to his players before the game. He wanted to get his team to focus on high percentage shots, close to the net.
He also told his team before the title game everybody needed to rebound, which was heard and taken to heart. Rebounding, he said, was something he noticed was the difference between the Norwood Knights and the St. Thomas Titans in the Kawartha semi-final earlier in the day. It enabled the Knights to meet them for the title game.
All of his players used their footwork and positioning to effectively shut down the Knights.
He praised his defensive standouts such as Ben Livingstone, who kept the Knights at bay on the wing, Cade Bain and Steven Dudgeon. Hawks guard Austen French led all scorers with 13 points while forward Steve Dudgeon finished with eight points.
Hawks muzzle Bulldogs in semi-finals
The junior Red Hawks started the Kawartha A championship run with a dominant 48-22 semi-final win over the visiting Bulldogs of Brock.
Lacking scoring punch and defensive coverage on the fast break, the Bulldogs were outclassed by the home team. The red and white executed on both ends, creating turnovers by stepping into the passing lanes and marking their opponents well on defence while moving the ball well and scoring on fast break opportunities on the other.
Although Hawks forward Steve Dudgeon led his team with 12 points, the team’s balanced attack included three other players (Austen French, Tevin Sullivan and Caden Little) with eight points.