Redemption and recovery were on the minds of the Thunder men’s basketball team on Friday Nov. 21 as they beat out the Vikings 59–45, coming back from a shaky start to the season.
The Thunder kick-started the weekend with a strong 14-point lead and all the efforts of their improvement showed in the 34–20 score come half-time. They held on to their lead over the Vikings up until the fourth quarter. However, the game came with many lessons on stamina.
“I felt that the team played well and provided a good energy for about three quarters,” said forward Patrick Lumumba.
The Thunder worked their size advantage against St. Lawrence offensively after noticing they played only one “big man” at all times. However there is still a lot of work to be done in that department.
Lumumba says the Thunder should focus on keeping intensity up after strong double-digit leads. The urgency to bring the lead up dwindled in the latter half of the match.
“We were the stronger team before the game began; we executed (well) and got off to a good start,” he said.
Esmat Atem echoed his teammate’s sentiments citing some key take-aways for their next set of matches.
“We could’ve done a better job with our rotations defensively and not foul guys as much as we did; we gave them a lot of free points off of unnecessary fouls,” said Atem.
However, after coming off previous losses, the Thunder spirit will not accept defeat any time soon.
“We are capable of winning against any team in our league,” said Atem. “Our record might not show it, but I am very confident in our group of guys.”
The following day the Thunder rallied for a late comeback, which seems to be becoming a regular occurrence, and came up just shy against the Loyalist Lancers, losing 71-65 on Nov. 22.
A first quarter which saw both sides trade baskets back-and-forth couldn’t have been a more deceiving precursor for the second quarter, one that saw Algonquin muster only four points.
“In the second quarter a lot of our key players were in foul trouble,” said Thunder guard Dini Dimpengi, who scored a team-high 24 points. “So (coach) had to bring in the bench early.”
“We had four points and I had all rookies on the floor for most of it, and it showed,” said Thunder head coach Trevor Costello. “When you don’t have veterans, you pay the price. We’ve done it all year, and we always seem to make some type of comeback. And I thought we would this game too once we got down.”
And once again, the Thunder made a comeback.
By the time the five-minute mark rolled around Algonquin had narrowed the deficit to just six points, a stretch which caused the crowd full of Thunder supporters to grow louder, until it seemed everyone in the gymnasium was convinced that they were going to pull it off.
The gap was narrowed down to a mere two points with a clutch Thunder three-pointer with 23 seconds left in the game. But as the Lancers pressed back up-court the Thunder had a defensive breakdown, leading to an easy two points, putting the game out of reach.
“It sure is one tough loss,” said Dimpengi. “We spent all week preparing for this team. We had it down to a two-point game in the closing seconds, but miscommunication on defense pretty much cost us on that one.”
“We’re a young team that went through a bunch of breakdowns, it was evident,” said Costello. “We were still in it only down two, and drew up something we liked defensively, but we left guys open underneath the basket. That’s just unacceptable in crunch time.”
“I’ll take the blame. There are a lot of people you can put the blame on, but I’m the head coach, so I have to take the blame for these kinds of losses.”
Algonquin now sits in seventh place in their division at 3-5, and has two more road games before heading into the winter break: Nov. 29 against Canadore and Dec. 4 against La Cité.