Red Hawks senior basketball player Caleb Schmidt is proving to have ice in his veins.
For the second consecutive game Schmidt showed great composure in scoring an important shot when his team needed it on the final offensive drive.
Unlike the team’s last game against the Wildcats of I.E. Weldon Secondary School when Schmidt tied the game to keep his team’s hopes for a win alive this time he ended the game with seconds left after his short jump shot scored two points for the 40-38 win against the visiting Fenelon Falls Secondary School Falcons on Monday.
Coach Dave Waito commended his player on a fine game particularly in the final minutes when he got a pair of steals and a bucket to tie it and then the last shot to win it.
“It was Caleb Schmidt’s game tonight” he said.
Schmidt finished with not only eight points but led the team with Hunter Smith in steals at four.
Waito also acknowledged the overall team’s hard work determination and grittiness which had a huge factor in the come back to set the stage for Schmidt.
Defense continues to be key for this team in being able to be close and overcome a stagnant offense.
In the first half the team shot an abysmal nine per cent (two for 22). The team had open looks at the bucket but could not finish enabling the Falcons to lead 21-13 at the halftime.
“The defence has been what has kept us in these close games late. The defence has been what has helped us these last two games. We need to keep growing with the intensity we’ve shown on the defensive end” he said.
By the end of it the Hawks dramatically improved its shooting efficiency in the second matching their defensive capabilities. With 12 of 23 from the field the Hawks shot a blistering 52 per cent in the second half. Combined with the Falcons’ tendency to settle for the perimeter shot which is partially influenced by the home team’s stifling defence the Hawks clawed their way back into it despite a 13 point deficit with just a little over six minutes left in the game.
The Hawks point guard McKay Coneybeare’s three pointer helped get the ball rolling drawing the team to within 10 points. His shot helped fire up the team and the all-important sixth man the partisan crowd that filled the stands which were used regularly to kick for distraction during Falcons free throws. The three-pointer led to a 16 to one run for the home team who fed off the energy of each other and the appreciative crowd who for the most part stayed the entire game.
When Waito was asked about his team’s play compared to former NBA Raptors player and venerable hard working Charles Oakley he welcomed the compliment.
“He was the kind of guy that always got the rebounds and always got the loose balls and always made the bangs on the inside to make sure you got position and you put yourself in an advantage. So we talk about that. I think that is coming from a place these guys have worked for it as long as they have and they want it really badly right? That’s been the speech at the beginning of the games. Be hungry and stay hungry and they are” he said.
The team’s big men in the paint Travis Carroll and Jalen Campbell were outsized by the Falcons inside players but were rarely out-hustled and never shied from hitting the deck for loose balls. Campbell finished with seven rebounds and Carroll had three steals including a combined nine points.
The team’s leading scorer was Nick Thompson who did more than just drive the lane looking for contact and display great touch around the net for the offense as he also led the team with seven rebounds.
Overall the team is 7-4 including tournament play. Waito said when the team lost its four games of the year the team came together and continue to work.
Although the team is undefeated in Kawartha West High School League play Waito isn’t expecting to be given anything the rest of the season. The Hawks will be playing everybody again and he expects vengeance will be on the minds of every player they have faced.
Waito said it’s a learning process as far as what to do late in the game whether up or down on the scoreboard.
This game like the team’s triple overtime win is an important building block to a championship whether against comparable and better teams.
“How much experience we have in close games like this is going to build a knowledge base for us to handle those close games in the future so high stress situations won’t be new to us and that’s going to be a big advantage at the end of the year. You want to win these close games. You learn lots in them and when you can come out on top it makes sure your confidence is there next time” he said.