A lack of offensive effort in the third quarter disappointed Eastern Commerce’s coaching staff as the Saints managed to pull out a 60-41 win over Lawrence Park on Jan. 13.
The winless Panthers (0-7) held the undefeated Saints (7-0) to just four points in the frame three while scoring 15 of their own.
That defensive breakdown marred a pristine Eastern Commerce season, coach Dwayne Sybbliss said.
“Any time you get beat in any of the quarters — we took that as a loss,” he said. “Holding them to 10 points in the first half, and them score 31 in the second, we have to go back and practice a lot of things.”
One poor quarter aside, the Saints scored at will to begin the game, with Aaron Best adding eight points and Tyrone Chambers coming off the bench to net six.
Taking a 42-10 lead into the dressing room at halftime the Saints failed to continue their effort into the third as Lawrence Park started to play as a team, Panthers coach Cargel Stewart said.
“They settled down in the second half. Brandon (John) picked up his game,” he said of his charges. “They were playing a lot of individual ball in the first half: missing the wide-open guys, taking the basket themselves, but they played a little more team-oriented in the second half.”
Stewart admitted facing an undefeated Eastern Commerce daunted his charges.
“I think what happened in the first half there was just a little, as it were, deer in the headlights look,” he said. “They were very scared.”
Picking up 12 points and six boards for the Panthers was Brandon John. Stewart said he was one of few Panthers owning up to the challenge.
“The other guards couldn’t handle the pressure,” he said. “In fact I was going to sub him and the guys said, ‘We’ve got to leave him on because he’s the only one who can handle the pressure’.
“He definitely rose to the occasion.”
John was disappointed with his crew’s performance in the first two quarters but once his teammates regained their confidence they took control of the ball.
“The first half we didn’t come out hard,” he said. “The second half we stepped it up, but it wasn’t enough to win.”
Other Panthers frustrating the Saints defence were Ismar Seferagic with nine points, three blocks and multiple boards and Sebastian Parodi who dished the ball into crowds setting up Lawrence Park’s 15 points in the third.
Though the third was a quarter Eastern Commerce would rather forget, Sybbliss said it would not hurt morale heading into the a Mother Theresa tournament in Scarborough, nor their OFSAA pursuit.
“We definitely want to take care of the region first. We also want to win OFSAA, but before you get to OFSAA you have to take care of your league first,” he said. “That’s one thing we’re focusing on, so we’re taking it one game at a time.”
When it comes to the pursuit of OFSAA, Sybbliss said the Saints treat every team as a threat on the glory road.
“I guess in the past you like to say Oakwood and Jarvis have definitely been up there but we definitely don’t want to come into any game under-estimating our opponent,” he said.
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