Gryphons re­bound and earn redemp­tion

The Welland Tribune - - Sports - BERND FRANKE Re­gional Sports Ed­i­tor

What is the in­ter­est — com­pounded quar­terly, of course — on a one-point loss in high school bas­ket­ball over one year?

In the case of the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons, it’s 10 points, from a 53-52 loss last year to a 58-49 vic­tory at the Tri­bune Boys Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment.

Ni­a­gara’s new­est high school, after los­ing by the thinnest of mar­gins in its in­au­gu­ral Tri­bune Tour­na­ment last year, de­feated the Lakeshore Catholic Ga­tors to fin­ish the 2019 edi­tion of the mid­sea­son show­case in the win­ner’s cir­cle.

Though Austin Ladouceur and Ethan VanNat­ter were the only re­turn­ing starters on the Greater Fort Erie team, last year’s loss to the Saint Michael Mus­tangs in the B fi­nal was none­the­less on the mind of the Gryphons.

“Yeah, we talked about and how much we’d like to re­deem our­selves,” head coach Dave Adamek said.

Greater Fort Erie hung on to win the bat­tle for High­way 3 bas­ket­ball brag­ging rights after tak­ing a 38-20 lead into the fi­nal half.

“We def­i­nitely were a lit­tle ner­vous in the sec­ond half,” Adamek said. “Lakeshore came out fly­ing, and we started miss­ing some, even in­side stuff, in the third quar­ter.

“A cou­ple of bad bounces, next thing you know, it’s a 10-point lead.”

Lakeshore’s come­back bid, spurred by the Ga­tors’ switch to a zone from a man-to-man de­fence, didn’t throw the Gryphons en­tirely off their game.

“We got ner­vous but, no, we were con­fi­dent the en­tire time,” Adamek said. “We knew if we just took care of the ball, ran our stuff, the shots would con­tinue go­ing in.

“I’m proud of the guys. They held it to­gether de­spite a hard push by Lakeshore.”

After re­bound­ing from a qual­i­fy­ing-round loss to De­nis Mor­ris with vic­to­ries over West­lane and Grimsby, the Gryphons took the court against Lakeshore with some un­fin­ished busi­ness to com­plete.

“We could have had it last year, but we couldn’t ex­e­cute,” Ladouceur said.

He pointed out there’s more to Greater Fort Erie’s of­fence than the team’s three lead­ing scor­ers.

“Re­cently our bench has been step­ping up a lot,” the Grade 11 stu­dent said. “If one of us isn’t hav­ing his best game, we al­ways

have some­one on the bench. “Ev­ery­one helps out a lot.” Head coach Todd Shoalts, whose Ga­tors lost by six to Greater Fort Erie at a tour­na­ment three weeks ago in Port Col­borne, was proud of how the team played in the re­match.

“Our prob­lem was we just got too far be­hind; we couldn’t make it up.”

Lakeshore started nar­row­ing the deficit after switch­ing to a zone de­fence.

“That worked re­ally, re­ally well,” Shoalts said. “That solved the puz­zle, and we just had too much ground to make up.”

While the switch to zone was ef­fec­tive in neu­tral­iz­ing Greater Fort Erie’s big three — Micah Ste­wart, Ladouceur, VanNat­ter — the Ga­tors didn’t do enough to help them­selves on of­fence.

“We had some bad turnovers in the sec­ond half that killed us,” Shoalts said. “You know what, they gave it a game, that’s what I wanted them to do.

“I’d be ly­ing if I said I wasn’t dis­ap­pointed, but at the end of the day our guys played hard.”

Shoalts con­ceded he could have switched de­fences ear­lier in the game, though that move could have back­fired.

“The thing is I was wor­ried about their three-point shoot­ers,” he said. “I thought if I go to zone too early, their three-point shoot­ers are go­ing to feast on us.”

Scor­ing for the Gryphons: VanNat­ter, 15; Ste­wart, 14; Ladouceur, 13; Zachary Tyrrell, seven; Novon­tay Brown, four; Avery Stein­back-Parker, four; Kier­nan Con­nelly, one.

Scor­ing for the Ga­tors: Nick Qua, 14; Thomas Cryer, 10; Al­lan Pam­bianco, seven; Ben Shoalts, six; Sa­muel Bei­fuss, five; Ai­dan Plante, three; Chase Beau­re­gard, two; Travis Hill, two.

JULIE JOCSAK THE ST. CATHARINES STAN­DARD

Lakeshore Catholic’s Nick Cryer is pur­sued by Greater Fort Erie’s Ri­ley Mitchell in con­so­la­tion cham­pi­onship ac­tion Satur­day night.

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