By: Stephanie Taylor-Baptiste

The Algonquin Thunder Men’s basketball team won its second game of its home opener weekend on Nov. 3 with an 81-65 victory over the Cambrian Golden Shields.

The Thunder’s strong, determined play gave them a commanding lead early on. After five minutes in the first quarter they set up a long pass down court to Mahamat-Ali Haggar. Haggar jumped up for a nice layup, but was fouled. He received two foul shots and hit both of them. At the end of the first quarter the Thunder had an impressive 16-6 lead.

The second quarter saw a lot of back and forth, and Algonquin forcing Cambrian to take numerous fouls, which the Thunder capitalized on from the line. The Thunder lost some of the momentum they had in the first quarter, and allowed Cambrian to get within three at the half. They dropped the intensity and allowed the Golden Shields to come in and get close to the net to make their baskets.

Algonquin came out with a nice looking play to start the half by Haggar. While the Thunder was applying pressure, Haggar got the ball. He made a huge fake forward as if he was going to the net to confuse the defence, and then took a step backwards to put the shot up, and hit the basket putting the Thunder up 33-28.

The fourth quarter was a nail-biter until about half way through. Cambrian threw up a three-point shot but missed, but capitalized on the rebound to bring the game to 62-60. Algonquin’s coaches called a time out to get the guys to regroup and focus. The Thunder turned it around and applied pressure, and the Golden Shields couldn’t keep up.

Algonquin’s head coach Trevor Costello said after the game that he was happy with the guys play, but that they have to keep the intensity up that they come into the game with, throughout.

“I think the guys were scoreboard watching,” he said. “They saw La Cité beat these guys by 40 yesterday so our guys mentally thought they had the game sealed before we even stepped on the court. It’s not like that in the OCAA, you got to be ready no matter what.”

Costello went on to say that he’d like to see improvement on the team’s defensive rotations, as this was something they were lacking. Costello also said he was impressed with Haggar’s play and the leadership role he took on.

Haggar felt the team played hard, but echoed the coach’s sentiments about keeping their intensity up.

“When we have a lead we have to not let up,” said Haggar. “When we have a lead we start to get a little relaxed. We’ve got to keep up the intensity the whole way through.”

Costello says the team will work on being mentally prepared before the Thunder take their next game on the road to Potsdam, New York on Nov. 6