The cheers and stamps of a rowdy crowd helped to spur the H.J. Cody senior boys basketball team to a win over the St. Joe’s Falcons and the Zone Championship Saturday night.
The pressure was high for the senior boys Lakers going into the final game of Zones. The boys had to win the final game by at least eight points to take the title and move on to the 3A Provincial Tournament for the first time.
According to Head Coach Matt Kennedy, the team did not let the pressure get to them, and prepared for the final game as they would any other.
“We watched a lot of game film to prepare, and we practised. We didn’t really change anything leading up to this game,” Kennedy said after the win.
“We have game day routines and we just didn’t break from that.”
The game was intense, and the two teams stayed within a few points of each other throughout the majority of the game.
Had the Lakers only managed to lead by seven points at the final buzzer, the game would have gone into over-time.
Kennedy said an extra five minutes of play between the Falcons and Lakers would have been crazy.
After the first 10 minutes of play the Lakers were tied with the Falcons, both had 22 points.
From the very beginning with Luke Marshall putting the Lakers on the board, the two teams were even.
The Lakers managed to squeak at the final buzzer in the first half No. 8 Tyler Johnston sunk a basket for two points.
“We didn’t really change much. We played our whole strategy the whole year, even though we knew it would hurt us in December, it would pay off in March, and boy did it ever” said Kennedy.
The strategy paid off in a big way. In the third quarter, the game continued to be close, though the Lakers kept a head, ending the quarter up seven points on the Falcons, 65-58.
The pressure was on in the final minutes, as seven points would not be enough to see the provincial championship.
The noise of the crowd got louder as the Laker sunk basket after basket, steadily leaving the Falcons behind.
St. Joe’s is not an easy team to go up against, according to Kennedy they are the best team the Lakers have had to face on the court.
As the final buzzer sounded the Lakers were ahead by 21 points. With a score of 89-68 and the cheers of the crowds the Lakers took the Zone title and are heading to the 3A Provincials for the first time.
“This is the first time we are heading to the 3A provincials. We have been to the 2A, but with our school growing this is the first time at 3A,” said Kennedy, adding the senior girls made it to provincials before the boys team.
Kennedy and Lakers recognize the fight for the provincial title will be a tough one.
However, they are confident they will play well in the tournament.
“We have played the third, fourth and fifth place teams before, and it was always close in the end, so we are feeling pretty good.”
The Provincial Championship is held in Brooks March 14-16. The Lakers will play their first game at 11 a.m on March 14 against W.H. Croxford from Airdire.