The Broncs senior boys basketball team managed to capture the bronze medal at their annual classic Pump tournament over the weekend, but it wasn’t easy sailing.
Their first game against the Barrhead Gryphons Friday, Dec. 11 proved an up and down challenge for the team who were ahead at the end of the first quarter but down 25-30 at the end of the half. Coach Tyler Johnson told the team to work on their full court press.
“They just responded to it and did it the way I drew it up,” said Johnson.
“The other team didn’t have an answer for it,” he added.
Indeed, about three minutes into the third quarter, an energy seemed to ignite within the Broncs who managed to capture a four-point lead. This boosted their confidence and they kept up that pressure for the rest of the game. They created several opportunities for scoring in the Gryphons’ side of the court. The only thing holding them back was incomplete shots.
“We’ve got a good unit of guys. What I’ve been preaching is using each other and not being selfish,” said Johnson.
He suggests successful possessions comes with good shots at the net rather than throwing the ball wildly and hoping for points. Johnson feels this will also build players’ confidence on the court. He referred to Grade 10 player Evret Fillinger who is one of his best shooters on the team but needs to keep up the momentum and confidence.
Against the Gryphons, Fillinger did just that. “He made a bunch in a row.”
That momentum stayed till the end of the game with the Broncs defeating the Gryphons 74-64.
The Bronze medal game was against Onoway, which proved to be a physical and mental challenge. Both teams had three players fouled out, with two of Ponoka’s starters on that list.
Johnson had to bring up his younger players and they rose to the challenge. “We were down by 11 to start the fourth quarter.”
Players faced personal frustration with referees’ calls and it showed. Johnson said some were overly vocal with officials and it hurt the team. Johnson’s goal was to finish strong and he guided players through the game. He credits Grade 12 players Cory Fillinger and Nils Simmons with strong leadership.
“They answered the bell … The rest of the guys couldn’t help but follow,” said Johnson.
Simmons managed eight points in the fourth quarter and Cory managed 16 points in the fourth quarter. Evret also managed a four-point play after sinking a three-pointer and drawing a foul. He capitalized on the foul and scored, which boosted the team’s confidence eventually earning them the win.
“When the final buzzer went it was just complete joy,” said Johnson.