Any team that can come back from a 20-point deficit against Martingrove Bears is good.
Those were the thoughts shared post game by Richview forward T.J. Rutty. The tall man for the Saints took long draughts of air as he looked at the hardwood at Martingrove CI, Feb. 13.
After playing 32 minutes in a game that saw the Saints rebound from a 46-26 shortfall at the half, Rutty was in need of all available oxygen.
Even though the Red and Black outscored their bearish rivals 38-26 in the second half, it wasn’t enough as the team lost to Martingrove 72-64.
“We had them in the third, we just kept fighting and fighting, brought (the score) down to five but we just have to continue,” he said. “The coach drew up amazing plays for us but we just have to have the effort and the intensity.”
Rutty’s coach, Ray Tone, acknowledged his charges late comeback but said he observed a lack of structure.
“We had four or five offensive trips in a row where we just did things we normally don’t do,” Tone said. “We always tell the kids, ‘Think and play. Think and play’, and if they can think and play, they can do anything.
“We’re as athletic as anybody but we weren’t thinking and playing.”
Rutty chipped in 21 points for his Saints, but the depth of Martingrove, featuring Connor Gilmore, Gabe Soicher, Sukhpreet Singh and Emanuel Owootoah, made it too much to overcome.
Bears coach Shawn Gray made no changes to the game plan he’s had all year.
“We just put it on the floor, went with what got us to this point and that’s how we’re going to go for the rest of the season because we continue to get better and do a good job with it,” he said. “The boys were just excited because the boys hadn’t practised in a while, and I’m glad they got out of the gates real good for us.”
Though Owootoah led all Bears scorers with 21, Gilmore flexed his dunking muscles on two momentum-changing jams that electrified the fans.
Also, David Anderson came off the bench driving the paint, setting up shots and on-target bombs from the perimeter.
But with the bull rush, there comes a bear market. In this case the lack net gain at the charity stripe.
And Gray admitted the team won’t have time to remedy their ailment.
“We won’t have time to work on it, we just have to work with what we’ve got, but lord have mercy,” he said, with a laugh. “I’ve never seen that in so long in our team, when down the stretch we would’ve won the game by 20 points.”
What the Saints will have to work on is their stamina while grappling with a short bench.
“Tomorrow at Richview, we just have to know what we’ve got to fix, and the thing is we know what we have to fix, it’s just keeping it,” Rutty said. “You have to stay in front of your man, box out — simple things, but it’s just executing it under the influence of fatigue.”
“When you’re tired and exhausted your brain says run, your legs, not so much,” he added. “It’s just being an athlete — when your number’s called you’ve got to perform.”
Whatever Tone said to his troops worked, as the Saints went on to beat West Humber 63-48 in a challenge match, and went on to claim the AAA title hammering Georges Vanier Vikings 86-51, Feb. 16.