The young crop of senior boys basketball players at Ponoka Secondary Campus got some good lessons last week.
Even though the Broncs were left far behind in two games, head coach Tylor Johannesson was quick to point out the team learned they can compete with the likes of Wetaskiwin and Sylvan Lake — both of which they lost by 30-plus points on Jan. 10 at home to Wetaskiwin and Jan. 12 in Sylvan Lake.
“This week was really good for us to learn that, when we play the right way, we can play with any team in our league,” Johannesson stated.
”The next step for us is to learn how to play the right way for a full 40 minutes.”
The Broncs were tied with Wetaskiwin through one quarter and were outplaying them, but their opponent’s size advantage allowed them to take advantage of the numerous offensive rebounds Ponoka gave up.
“It’s really hard to win games giving teams two, three and four chances on the same possession,” he said.
”We are excellent at making teams miss their first shot, but second opportunities are always way tougher to defend.”
Sylvan Lake is the league’s top team and the Broncs executed a near perfect defensive first half, even being without two of their top players to start — one not able to make it and another injured in warmup.
“We started out extremely strong, similar to our previous game. We really frustrated their offence with play from the likes of Grade 10s Michael Bloomquist and Riley Fillinger and we were really outplaying them,” Johannesson said.
“Our defence is our engine and when we play proper, hard defence, it feeds our transition offence and we are tough to beat.”
That left the Broncs down just four at half time, but the club lost the services of Clayton Raugust to a head injury just before the half ended meaning Ponoka would be down to three healthy forwards and that would wind up dunking any chance at the Broncs keeping pace.
“Unfortunately, because of how hard we played and because of the amount of injuries we have, the energy just wasn’t the same in the second half and we couldn’t sustain the same defensive intensity,” he stated.
Johannesson felt the team gave it all they could, given the fact some of the players were on the court for all but five minutes of the game.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my group for the way they played. It’s exciting for me to see the huge progress we make from game to game,” he added.
Slam dunks: The Broncs took on Rocky Mountain House last night (score unavailable at press time) in the club’s final game before exams and then the playoff race in three weeks.