Young cagers step-up to fill the grads’ shoes
A new season means a new A.Y. Jackson basketball squad steps into the shoes of graduated seniors of yore.
In their first game against Victoria Park Panthers, the Jaguars grade 11s met the expectations set by coach Beth Spiegelman, winning 39-35.
“Some people really stepped up, and that was good to see of some of the kids who are grade 11, because they didn’t have a chance to play junior last year,” she said.
Stepping into the Nikes of the departed Jason Appiah-Ampofo were Quincy Williams and Zimbert Bramble.
Williams netted 16 points while his teammate sunk 11, grabbed 10 boards and made like a thief on defence with six steals. The double-double for A.Y. Jackson’s man sporting the faux-hawk was a good result for his hard work.
“We came out strong, we kept our intensity up throughout the whole game so we tried not to make too many mistakes,” Bramble said. “We tried to keep our personalities positive.”
Still, the game was not without its drama, as Victoria Park never let the Jaguars get more than a six-point lead. Additionally, in the final minutes of the game, Panthers guard Daniel Theodore drained a trey to tie the game at 33.
“We played hard on offence,” Theodore said post game. “We could have played better on defence — bring more intensity.”
Leading all Vic Park scorers was Mustafa Sheheed with nine, and teammate Theodore contributed with six.
Their coach Tyrelle Smith is looking to work out the opening-day jitters for the Panthers’ next match.
“It’s the home opener, so there’s a lot of excitement going,” he said. “I’m trying to keep my guys levelheaded, to make sure they stay in the game and play their game.
“Our focus this season is to play as a team and to be consistent,” he said. “I’m trying to instill in these guys that basketball is a game but the more fun with you have with it, the better you’ll be.”
Though Jordan Burton only chipped in four points for Victoria Park, he pulled down 11 boards, camping out under the Jaguars’ hoop. He also assisted on three buckets and forced three turnovers.
Though the Jaguars’ defence is keeping the ball away from the net, there is work to be done on the other side of the court.
“I think we need to be a lot more disciplined,” Spiegelman said. “We take shots too early and we need to work the ball in more with more cuts to the hoop.”
Though their North Region rivals put up a good scrap, and Williams admitted he was surprised by the Panthers’ zeal, he said he was pleased with his own team’s efforts.
“Honestly we didn’t expect (Victoria Park) to come out with all the energy they did,” he said. “I think when we’re down we’re going to continue to fight.”