Everyone got what they wanted from the Red Hawks senior boys’ basketball home opener against the Brock High School Bulldogs on Thursday, Dec. 5 in Haliburton.
The hometown fans went home happy and proud of the red and white. The Hawks players earned the satisfaction from the win against an A classified school, and have a clean start to the season. The coach got the effort and execution … at least for most of the game. The rookies showed their mettle, fitting in and not looking uncomfortable.
Co-coach Paul Longo, who coaches with Sam Little, said he loved his team’s effort despite the finish, which saw the Bulldogs reduce a 17-point lead down to six at the buzzer.
“It was a nice way to start, get a win. You know, we were up pretty good there in the fourth quarter. We let them back in with some threes, but overall pretty happy with the effort and everybody’s contributing, which is great. We had some new guys. Two or three guys, who haven’t played any organized ball in high school. And now they’ve come in, listening and have learned fast,” he said.
He adds Micheal Stevens had five points in the fourth quarter, which was huge. Kyle Davis had two buckets in the post.
“I’m really happy with the overall effort of all 15 guys,” he said.
Who loves pressure? Well, from watching the home opener, the Hawks really like to put the screws to their opponent. Longo said he liked the way his players executed the press and how they hustled.
“They like to press. These guys like to run and get in [and get] dirty,” he said, referring to tenacity and on-ball aggression, but not illegal play. “So, I really was impressed by our second unit there today: Teo O’Malley, Tevan Sullivan, James Alexander, and our big guys, Jaxon [Gill] and Ethan Glecoff. I really like the way they were calm on the floor today and had some great defensive stops. They gave us some buckets. So, yeah, overall a good start.”
Longo said this is the first senior game for all of the players since the Hawks did not have a senior team last year. A few players, he added, never even played high school ball before.
When asked about the few occurrences when the team lost its composure and appeared to rush, leading to several turnovers, Longo chalked it up to youthful exuberance.
“That’s just typical of high school where guys just lose their minds for a bit and then you got to settle them down, but these guys, you know, most of these guys have been playing together since Grade 9 now. We’re three years in. They know each other and they’re really starting to feel comfortable with each other on the floor. I don’t know what this year will hold overall for senior [boys] we’re hoping for good things. Again, we’re kind of building for next year too. As a Grade 12 squad next year, I think we could do some very serious damage,” he said.
Red Hawks player Ethan Glecoff attempts to break free from a Brock High School defender.
Ten of the 15 are in Grade 11, he said. Three are in Grade 12 and two in their fifth year.
Longo points out his starting five (Marra, Kim, Dupret-Smith, Joe Boice, Ryan Mee) for this game are all Grade 11s.
“That’s big for them get a nice big win against, you know, a team that has a bunch of Grade 12s on it so that’s good,” he said.
Although the team had three set lines of five play the game, Longo said not to expect that to be the practice.
“First game of the year I wanted everybody to feel the floor and get into it and feel like they’re part of something, and they are. And, I told them in the dressing room after, I said, we don’t really have three lines. I can throw anybody on with anybody else and I wanted to do it today. I didn’t know if it was going to work or not. I was ready to pull it off pretty quickly, but I felt it was working. I felt like it was working. Everybody was contributing. All three groups were contributing and, again, the most important thing we played really good D in the first half. We held them to 17 points in the first half so I think near the end there we got a bit lazy on D because we thought the game was out of reach,” he said, referring to how a 17-point lead was reduced to six. “Basketball can change on a dime, right? No lead is safe.”
The overall message for his team was that he appreciated the effort and how they executed in the defensive end, particularly in the first half.
“Really good start. Impressive D in the first half. We got lots of work to do,” he said.