The Algonquin Wolves men’s basketball team beat the Seneca Sting 65-59 in a nail-biting game in the OCAA playoffs on March 9, proceeding to the quarter-finals.
The Wolves had to fight hard all the way to the last 30 seconds in order to beat the Sting in the first game of the knockout stage of the tournament.
The team got off to a rocky start, with the Sting pulling ahead to a six point advantage by the end of the first half.
With an effective counterattack, the Sting ensured the Wolves paid dearly for every mistake and struggled to stick to their game plan.
“The strategy was to get a good lead and keep it and make it tough for their shooters but those guys hit some tough shots, we didn’t rebound well and they rebounded better than us,” said head coach Trevor Costello, pleased with his victory, but well aware how close it was.
The half-time talk rejuvenated the Wolves and they returned a more composed and focused team for the third period. But the Seneca Sting were determined to stay ahead.
“I feel like we didn’t come in strong at first; we were playing passive,” said Jessner Thelemaque, the team’s top scorer with 22 points.
With the game rapidly slipping away, the Wolves dug deep for some inspiration in the last period and fought back with a flurry of three-pointers and layups, discounting the Sting’s lead to just one point with three minutes left on the clock.
Thelemaque was the star of the final period – netting 17 points in those 10 minutes – carrying his team to victory.
“JJ took over the game at the end. If he wasn’t there…Our stars didn’t play great, and this guy (Thelemaque) was unbelievable,” said Costello.
The Wolves waited for the last minute to slip into a slim one point lead, and with the boost in confidence sunk in a few more to win the game 65-59.
But Costello has been doing this long enough to not rest on past laurels.
“Tomorrow, we are going to work on defensive rotations, and some offensive stuff and hopefully be ready by Saturday,” he said.
They face off against the St. Clair Saints – who will host them – at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 12 for their OCAA quarterfinals matchup.