It has been a successful fall campaign for William Lyon Mackenzie sports teams, and the junior girls basketball team did not disappoint.
Though they fell short Nov. 4 against Downsview Mustangs 55-31 at Nelson A. Boylen Collegiate, Lyons co-captains Andrea Fairweather and Ieta Shams lauded their teammates for putting forth the “blood, sweat and tears” to keep the game close.
“It was a great game,” Shams said. “Both teams worked hard.”
Coach Terry Agelothanasis knew Downsview was undefeated at 9-0 and was the highest scoring team in the North Region. So a tight defensive strategy was enacted.
“We tried and worked pretty hard on the defence,” he said. “I just think we got a little bit tired, at some point we fell into the running game, but we tried to keep it a half-court defensive game.
“We stuck to our two-three trapping defence and it seemed to shut them down to an extent.”
Performances by Lia Mattacchone and Shams on the offence kept Mac within eight points at the half.
The third quarter proved to be tougher however, as the troupe flagged.
Mustangs’ buckets came at a frenzied pace from scorers Merlanvie Paul, Raekwon McFarlane and captain Tiosha Wilson.
Agelothanasis called a timeout to rein in his flustered Lyons.
“I just told them that this was their chance to make a difference,” he said. “It’s the third-quarter, we have a lot of time to come back in this game.
“I said, ‘I want you guys to go out there and play the best possible game. I don’t care if you’re tired, thirsty, just go out there and play tough Mackenzie defence’.”
It seemed to take hold as the Lyons went on a 4-0 run before forcing Mustangs coach Devon Thompson to call a 60-second break for his charges.
“Mac had a pretty good zone going,” he said. “My girls were a little bit more patient at the beginning.”
As for the physical play that led to a total of five foul-outs — three for Mackenzie and two for Downsview.
“It’s a learning experience for the girls,” Thompson said. “The girls’ game tends to be a little bit more physical than the guys.”
“I was concerned because our bench is not as strong as our starters,” he said. “But we practise enough that I had faith in them enough to fill in the work.”
“Our team was more than capable to come back if given the chance.”