Written by Peter de Vooght
The Edmonton based Queen Elizabeth Knights are a relative unknown coming into this weekend’s No Regrets tournament. The Calgary teams from past years were unable to attend as they were stuck in a weekend of playoff games back home, but thankfully Queen Elizabeth has stepped up in an effort to continue the strong Alberta presence.
Immediate shout outs to the South Kamloops coaches for setting a classy example for the boys with collars and ties and also to the Queen Elizabeth equipment manager hooking the boys up with a Jordan branded uniform. QE’s out of town swagger appears evident in a confident warm up routine. The quickness and athleticism of the Knights against the strength and size of the Titans should have us in store for a great match up on opening day.
QE’s number 13 and starting centre, Ridwan Hassan, opened up the game with a 12-foot jumper, which could be a sign of the versatility within this unknown squad. They are coming out with a very active zone defense, with hands moving, communication and screaming voices to add intensity and chaos to their defensive scheme. QE’s coach, Sam Mosen, is vocal on the sidelines as well, running a tight ship as he calls out his team’s plays. However the South Kam guards are providing great pressure at half court, not allowing the Knights their offensive sets.
High drama as gameplay is stopped briefly due to the legitimacy of the game ball being called into question. After a meeting between coaches and game officials, a ball is chosen and gameplay resumes. KL’s # 11, Thacker, makes the first three pointer of the game for South Kam after the Knights have been encouraging outside shooting with their interior zone defense. Could this be the shot they needed to continue the momentum for the rest of the game?
A potential story moving forward will be the two early fouls on QE’s #13, which will leave a hole in their game plan if he is taken off the floor. QE’s soft defence is evident when Kamloops #22, Ripley, takes the ball strong into the post and scores an easy lay-up. Kudos to the Titans bench for being very vocal supporters of their teammates on the floor and greeting every player when they sub off. Great to see such ‘teamsmanship’ from these young men.
KL #22, Ripley, was a workhorse in the post using his size to establish position and draw fouls on the opposition. If he heats up from the line it could mean trouble for the Knights. The Titans are very high energy as they ran the floor, causing turnovers and capitalizing on fast break opportunities. They certainly weren’t intimidated by this out of town mystery team. It was been a balanced team effort by SK contrasting with the individual skills of QE. Score after the first quarter: SK 22- QE 13.
It was déjà vu as QE’s #13 Hassan started the scoring in the second quarter, but this time with a wide open three. His proven range could be a defensive nightmare for the KL coaching staff. There is a very different energy to QE in the second quarter with number 13 back on the court after taking some rest. They were obviously hampered by his early foul trouble and to make his presence felt he scored a beautiful reverse layup after going coast to coast.
There was a great moment shared between team leader KL #5, Reid and his big #22 as Reid gave encouragement after a missed free throw. He surely knew that if South Kaml wanted to hold on for this win they will need their big’s presence down low. #7, Sam, from SK drained a three straight off the bench while QE’s #11, Kouth Kong, sent a beautiful no-look dish to his teammate for an easy score.
South Kam’s energy and teamwork is the story of the first half. They showed a balanced offense with consistent outside shooting along with a high intensity defense that caused turnovers and fast breaks. Halftime score 50-38 for South Kam. QE needed to start hitting some shots and likely rely on #13 if they were to have any hope of coming back and taking the win.
· Leading first half scorers:
· QE 16 points #13
· SK 18 pts #22
· Only foul trouble with 3 fouls each:
· #12 (Ben) SK
· #8 (Arsne Djade) QE
QE did come out guns blazing in the second half. Coach Sam Mosen must have stoked the fire with a rousing halftime speech. Spirits were high and they put on a full court press trying to hopefully shift the momentum. However the energy appeared to fade fast as a beautiful behind the back feed from SK #9, Nick, set up a fast break layup to #5, Reid, followed by a barrage of 3’s from SK to show they certainly didn’t lack confidence from beyond the arc. Their quick and efficient passing easily took care of the press midway through the third. The QE coach took a much needed time out as the onslaught continued to stretch the lead to 18 points for KL. Trying to pull his squad back into the game out of the break, #6 on QE, Mostafa Ikar, had his best stretch of the game with multiple 3 point makes in a row. Score after the 3rd quarter South Kamloops 75 - 58 QE.
The wheels seem to be coming off a bit in the 4th as a string of turnovers from QE is making a comeback look less and less likely. The lead has been stretched to 26 with SK’s #13 scoring a string of great finishes at the rim. With five minutes left in the 4th quarter, the QE coach emptied his bench and will be looking to take the positives from today’s game and attempt to bounce back strong for the rest of the weekend. As the minutes tick away the South Kam bench was standing and cheering as their teammates dove onto the floor for a loose ball. With this amount of camaraderie their squad will definitely be a force to reckon with over the weekend. Final score South Kam 97-97 QE.
Note: Twenty-five year old, 7’ 0” South Kam alum Kelly Olynyk was selected 13th overall in the 2013 NBA draft and is in his 4 year with the Boston Celtics. So far this year he is seeing an average of 21 minutes per game while shooting 48% overall and 37% from beyond the arc. He is an important part of the Celtics 13-9 start to the 2016-2017 season.